Robert Roos at CIDRAP has an intriguing post: Study finds MERS-CoV in Egyptian camels. After discussing a new article in Emerging Infectious Diseases (click through for the link), Roos goes on:
The authors say their findings confirm that MERS-CoV infects dromedary camels and that the camel virus is genetically very similar to MERS-CoV in humans.
"The detection of MERS-CoV in nasal swab specimens of camels in 2 of 12 sampling occasions in abattoirs, taken together with the high seropositivity to MERS-CoV in dromedaries previously reported, supports the contention that MERS-CoV infection is common in dromedaries," they write.
They note that the study adds to the plausibility of the view that camels can pass the virus to humans, but the lack of serologic evidence of infection in the abattoir workers suggests that such transmission is uncommon.
The scientists write that the camels that tested positive for MERS-CoV were imported from Sudan or Ethiopia. Their findings, they say, raise the possibility of human MERS cases outside the Arabian Peninsula. Thus far all cases have originated on or near the Arabian Peninsula or have direct or indirect links to the region.
Assuming that the camels contracted the MERS virus in Sudan and Ethiopia, surveillance in those countries deserves to be stepped up—including surveys to find MERS antibodies in the local populations.