MILAN – It could be the dromedary to convey to man the new SARS coronavirus in the Middle East (Mers-CoV) that according to the latest WHO bulletin has infected 96 people worldwide, causing 46 deaths. A group of camels from Oman and from the Canary Islands, whose blood was analyzed, tested positive for the HIV antibody test Mers, indicating that the animals were infected or in the past had been infected by the virus. The study, which involved an international team coordinated by Chantal Reusken the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in Bilthoven in the Netherlands, is published in the Lancet
STUDY – Transmission of the virus from human to human is very difficult, so to shed light on the origins of the disease, the scientists analyzed blood samples from 349 different species of animals (cows, goats, sheep, camels, llamas, alpacas) from from different parts of the world. Only the camels, and especially all those from Oman and 50, tested positive for the HIV antibody test Mers. "The camels in the Middle East were found to be positive more often and with greater concentrations of antibodies in the blood – the authors explain the research -. The type of virus-like Mers that hit those Oman is in some way different from the one that circulates in Spain. " Low levels of Mers-CoV antibodies were found in 14% of serum samples collected from dromedaries and camels from the Canary Islands. No Mers-CoV antibody was found in the blood instead of 160 cattle from the Netherlands and Spain.
BATS – 'The discovery came as a surprise because so far the bats were the prime suspects for the infection. However, given that the majority of people hardly comes into contact with bats, it is likely that the virus reaches the man through an intermediate host, "explains Marion Koopmans Institute of Bilthoven. Guest who might be precisely the dromedary that, in the Arabian Peninsula, where the Mers began to spread, is bred for meat, milk and transportation and could therefore be at the origin of the infection. Verified you are hit by a virus similar to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, the next step will be to look for the virus itself, studying stool samples or throat swabs. "This will not be easy – Koopmans explains – because the coronavirus is short-lived." We must also understand the ways transmission to humans, since the majority of people affected by Mers has not had direct contact with the dromedaries. In a commentary on the study published in the Lancet Vincent Munster, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the United States, said: "In the absence of prophylaxis and treatments Mers-CoV, stop contagion between animals and humans, man -man, it might be the most promising way to prevent other deaths. "
WHO: CAUTION – The World Health Organization has welcomed the new study. However, "we do not know if the virus is the same one that affects humans, nor what type of exposure causes the infection of humans – said the spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic -. Every study that leads to new information about coronavirus is positive. " The study "seems to indicate that the Mers-CoV or a virus very similar to it has infected some camels, but the study only found antibodies in dromedaries, that demonstrated that these animals have had the infection. But the only way to know if the virus Mers-CoV is the same that has been identified in human beings is to find the Mers-CoV virus in camels, not antibodies. It is the next stage – added Jasarevic -. It should also be noted that the results do not provide information on how human beings are infected. Many affected people have been infected by other people, but many of the people who have been infected by other human beings do not appear to have had contact with camels. " Finally, "it is premature to exclude the possibility that other species may constitute the reservoir or intermediary to be the bearer of Mers-CoV. The study provided clues and directions for further investigation, but we do not know what kind of exposure cause human infection, "concluded the spokesman of WHO. For additional on this subject read reference.