Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

MERS virus discovered in bat near site of outbreak in Saudi Arabia

Date:
August 21, 2013
Source:
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Summary:
A 100 percent genetic match for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome has been discovered in an insect-eating bat in close proximity to the first known case of the disease in Saudi Arabia. The discovery points to the likely animal origin for the disease, although researchers say that an intermediary animal is likely also involved.

This is an Egyptian Tomb Bat (Taphozous perforatus) being examined by researchers. One of this type of bat was found to have Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in a study in Saudi Arabia.
Credit: Jonathan H. Epstein/EcoHealth Alliance

A 100% genetic match for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has been discovered in an insect-eating bat in close proximity to the first known case of the disease in Saudi Arabia. The discovery points to the likely animal origin for the disease, although researchers say that an intermediary animal is likely also involved.

Led by team of investigators from the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, EcoHealth Alliance, and the Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the study is the first to search for an animal reservoir for MERS in Saudi Arabia, and the first to identify such a reservoir by finding a genetic match in an animal. Results appear online in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"There have been several reports of finding MERS-like viruses in animals. None were a genetic match. In this case we have a virus in an animal that is identical in sequence to the virus found in the first human case. Importantly, it's coming from the vicinity of that first case," says W. Ian Lipkin, MD, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity and a co-author of the study.

MERS was first described in September 2012 and continues to spread. Close to 100 cases have been reported worldwide, 70 of them from Saudi Arabia. The causative agent, a new type of coronavirus, has been determined; however, the origin of the virus has been unknown until now.

Over a six-week period during field expeditions in October 2012 and April 2013, the researchers collected more than 1,000 samples from seven bat species in regions where cases of MERS were identified in Bisha, Unaizah, and Riyadh. Extensive analysis was performed using polymerase chain reaction and DNA sequencing revealed the presence of a wide range of alpha and beta coronaviruses in up to a third of bat samples. One fecal sample from an Egyptian Tomb Bat (Taphozous perforatus) collected within a few kilometers of the first known MERS victim's home contained sequences of a virus identical to those recovered from the victim.

Bats are the reservoirs of viruses that can cause human disease including rabies, Hendra, Nipah, Marburg, and SARS. In some instances the infection may spread directly from bats to humans through inadvertent inhalation of infected aerosols, ingestion of contaminated food, or, less commonly, a bite wound. In other instances bats can first infect intermediate hosts. The researchers suggest that the indirect method for transmission is more likely in MERS.

"There is no evidence of direct exposure to bats in the majority of human cases of MERS," says Ziad Memish, MD, Deputy Minister of Health, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and lead author of the study. "Given that human-to-human transmission is inefficient, we speculate that an as-yet-to-be determined intermediate host plays a critical role in human disease."

"We are continuing to look for evidence of the virus in wildlife and domestic animals, and investigating the mechanisms by which the virus causes human disease," adds Dr. Lipkin. "This is but the first chapter in a powerful collaboration amongst partners committed to global public health."

In the coming days, the group will be reporting the results of its investigation into the possible presence of MERS in camels, sheep, goats, and cattle.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ziad A. Memish, Nischay Mishra, Kevin J. Olival, Shamsudeen F. Fagbo, Vishal Kapoor, Jonathan H. Epstein, Rafat AlHakeem, Mushabab Al Asmari, Ariful Islam, Amit Kapoor, Thomas Briese, Peter Daszak, Abdullah A. Al Rabeeah, W. Ian Lipkin. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus in Bats, Saudi Arabia. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 2013; 19 (11) DOI: 10.3201/eid1911.131172

Cite This Page:

Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "MERS virus discovered in bat near site of outbreak in Saudi Arabia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130821132714.htm>.
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. (2013, August 21). MERS virus discovered in bat near site of outbreak in Saudi Arabia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 14, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130821132714.htm
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "MERS virus discovered in bat near site of outbreak in Saudi Arabia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130821132714.htm (accessed September 14, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) — A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — New research has shown that the Spinosaurus, the largest carnivorous dinosaur, might have been just as well suited for life in the water as on land. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins