Coronavirus Mers: Animal to Human Transmission

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Mers virus was apparently transmitted from animals to humans several times

The Mers coronavirus has already claimed 54 deaths. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 114 people have contracted Mers since September last year. However, it is still unclear where the virus came from. Studies have recently shown that Mers probably jumped several times from animals to humans in a variety of ways long ago.

Mers can be transmitted in different ways An international team of researchers analyzed the virus genome from 21 patient samples and came to the conclusion that the Mers virus was apparently transmitted from animals to humans several times. It was suspected that some people were infected with Mers but showed no symptoms. However, these people could infect others with the virus, as the researchers report in the online edition of the specialist journal "The Lancet". Other experts also suspect that transmission is possible in this way.

In order to track down the exact transmission pathways from Mers, the scientists specifically took samples from the airways of patients from Saudi Arabia. The virus genome was then thoroughly examined in the laboratory. The researchers came across three different types of pathogens in Riyadh. A similar picture with different variants of the virus was also seen in a Mers outbreak in a hospital. “We show the largest number of MERS-CoV genomes (21) that have been described so far. Complete genomic sequences from MERS-CoV enable the transmission routes to be tracked in more detail, ”the researchers report in the specialist magazine.

Origin of Mers remains unclear According to this, the patients have become infected in various ways. In addition, the analysis of the virus genome showed that the common “ancestor” of the virus variants must have been some time ago. However, the researchers have not yet been able to determine where the Mers virus comes from. There may be a connection to bats and dromedaries in which pathogens have also been detected. It cannot yet be said with certainty whether this is the origin of Mers.

"Transmission within Saudi Arabia can either have been caused by the spatial movement of an animal reservoir, animal products or the spatial movement of infected people," the researchers conclude. (ag)

Image: Cornelia Menichelli /

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