SARS-Like Virus Traced to—Camels?
Study finds virus antibodies in some camels from Oman, Canary Islands
By Arden Dier, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2013 10:40 AM CDT
Camels rest during a weekly camel market in Birqash, Egypt.   (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

(Newser) – Researchers have overcome a major hump in tracing the deadly MERS virus: Camels may be the source of infection. A study published in the Lancet reports that antibodies to the virus were found in blood samples taken from dromedary camels in Oman and the Canary Islands—"compelling evidence that dromedaries are infected with MERS or a related coronavirus," an expert tells the New York Times. Though there's still no proof and more research is needed, it does provide a lead; those affected by the SARS-like can now be questioned about their exposure to the animals, which are commonly used as food, pets, and racing animals in the Middle East.

Since many of the Middle East's camels are imported from Africa, it's possible the virus came from there, where bats are known to carry a related virus. So far 94 people have been infected with MERS—almost half have died—but surprisingly none from Oman, where of the 50 camels tested, 100% were positive for antibodies, the Guardian reports. However, Oman is close to countries where many people have fallen ill. Of the 105 camels tested in the Canary Islands, 14% were positive. Tests on sheep, goats, llamas, and alpacas came up negative.

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Showing 3 of 9 comments
Aug 16, 2013 8:22 PM CDT
A new way to fight terrorism? I mean I heard back in college in 1980 that AIDS was crafted for a specific purpose and then injected into the population of San Francisco, mainly Haight-Ashbury.
Aug 10, 2013 10:00 AM CDT
food, pets, and racing animals in the Middle East, uh ha...They don't call em camel jockeys for nothin...those long lonely nights in the desert. I was wondering that may be that some day a person may marry their camel partner, and get a talk show. Im just sayin.....
Aug 9, 2013 4:43 PM CDT
First the camels gave us cigarettes, now they give us MERS......camels hate our freedoms and way of life and are out to kill us. We need a war on camels, before they think of something else.