News / Middle East

Study: Deadly Saudi Virus Shows Complex Transmission

Scientists find clue suggesting camels may be involved in infecting people the deadly MERS virus, Camelicious milk farm in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, July 3, 2013.
Scientists find clue suggesting camels may be involved in infecting people the deadly MERS virus, Camelicious milk farm in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, July 3, 2013.
Reuters
Genetic analysis of samples of the deadly MERS virus that has killed 58 people in the Middle East and Europe shows the disease has jumped from animals to humans several times, scientists said on Friday.
 
At least 132 people have been infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus since it emerged about a year ago, and it has killed 58 of them, according to the World Health Organization.
 
While cases have been reported in people across the Middle East and in France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia and Britain, the vast majority of infections and deaths are in Saudi Arabia.
 
After conducting genome sequencing studies of the virus — from the same coronavirus family as the one that caused SARS a decade ago, British and Saudi researchers found several infection transmission chains and said they painted a picture of what they called lively “pathogenic chatter” between species.
 
“Our findings suggest that different lineages of the virus have originated from the virus jumping across to humans from an animal source a number of times,” said Paul Kellam, a professor of viral pathogenesis at Britain's Sanger Institute and University College London (UCL), who led the research.
 
His team sequenced and analyzed the genomes of MERS-CoV samples taken from 21 patients from across Saudi Arabia. They then combined the geographic locations of the patients with the time they were infected and the amount of genetic differences seen between the virus genomes.
 
This led them to what they called a “higher resolution picture of how the virus has spread and how its genome has changed over time.”
 
While the findings, published in the Lancet medical journal, cannot help scientists predict how likely MERS is to become more easily transmissible in people — and how likely to cause a human pandemic — they should help health experts develop more effective infection control measures to limit its spread.
 
The virus, a cousin of the coronavirus that caused a deadly outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002 and 2003, can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia.
 
As yet no firm evidence has been found on the so-called “animal reservoir” of MERS, although several recent studies have linked it to bats and to dromedary camels.
 
Various groups of scientists are conducting studies of other potential reservoir species, including goats, sheep, dogs, cats, rodents and others.
 
Ziad Memish, Saudi's deputy minister of health and one of the researchers on this latest study, said pinning down the animal source or sources would be critical in allowing health authorities to get on top of the outbreak.
 
Researchers and health officials say they take some solace from evidence showing that while the virus can spread from person-to-person, it does not do so easily and doesn't appear to be gaining a firm foothold as a human disease.
 
“Two mass gathering events attracting over 8 million pilgrims have occurred in Mecca, Saudi Arabia since the discovery of MERS-CoV 12 months ago — the annual haj in October 2012 and the July 2013 Ramadan Umrah season — and yet no MERS-CoV cases have been reported from these events to date,” said Ali Zumla, a professor of infectious diseases at UCL, who also worked on the study.
 
He added, however, that “despite the current minimal risk of global spread” and in the light of these latest genetic findings, “watchful surveillance and vigilance is required.”

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid