MERS virus transmission continues to baffle
Researchers have said that transmission of the mystery virus is more complicated than they initially anticipated.
20 Sep 2013
Researchers in Britain and Saudi Arabia have said that gene profiling of the MERS virus had provided insights, but no answer, as to how the mysterious microbe spreads.
Reporting online in The Lancet, the scientists said they had assembled a family tree of the coronavirus causing Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), using samples taken from 21 patients in Saudi Arabia.
With the exception of a cluster of cases in the eastern town of al-Hasa, the focal point of the outbreak is the Saudi capital, they said.
“These results suggest the circulating virus in Saudi Arabia is centred around Riyadh, with sporadic excursions to other centres,” they said.
The probe reiterated the theory that the virus — called MERS-CoV by scientists — probably leapt to humans from animals.
The genetic history of the virus suggests repeat infections may have occurred since then, but what the animal source was, or is, remains unclear, it said.