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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid