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Abstract

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is an existential threat to global public health. The virus has been repeatedly detected in dromedary camels (Camelus dromedarius). Adult animals in many countries in the Middle East as well as in North and East Africa showed high (> 90%) seroprevalence to the virus. Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus isolated from dromedaries is genetically and phenotypically similar to viruses from humans. We summarize current understanding of the ecology of MERS-CoV in animals and transmission at the animal-human interface. We review aspects of husbandry, animal movements and trade and the use and consumption of camel dairy and meat products in the Middle East that may be relevant to the epidemiology of MERS. We also highlight the gaps in understanding the transmission of this virus in animals and from animals to humans.

Authors

Hemida, M. G.;  Elmoslemany, A.;  Al-Hizab, F.;  Alnaeem, A.;  Almathen, F.;  Faye, B.;  Chu, D. K. W.;  Perera, R. A. P. M.;  Peiris, M.

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  • Hemida et al. paper "Dromedary Camels and the Transmission of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)" is one of a trail of papers whose purpose is to close the gaps relating the virus to humans. Dr. Hemida and team work meticulously using clear scientific methodology and well structured approaches to collect data from infected humans as well as from the originators the camels or other [bats, ...]. Though the researchers capitalize on strict standardized methods to identify the virus trajectory still in their conclusion we read, " Dromedary camels are likely to be a natural host of MERS, and transmission between camels is clearly documented. However, it is still unclear whether camels are the natural reservoir of the virus and the only source of human infection." Such a statement acts as a motivation for further research and the field is open to different specialty researchers in order to create a clear final picture. Meanwhile, human awareness [unawarenes or wrong information] has been brought up as a symptom that may lead to virus infections and transmission across boarders. The authors are commended for their scientific achievement but much more is needed to match exactly infected humans with specific hosts of the virus. Along this trail of more research, there must be continuous support from policy makers to avoid future fatalities with MERS-CoV. Further, the researchers need to publish clear Info-Graphs about the different camel breeds and the possibility of infection accompanied by how human exposure [long periods] may or may not lead to transmission of the virus.

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  • Dr. Hemida et al. present to us a very meticulous paper about "Dromedary Camels and the Transmission of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)" with an excellent clinical analysis of the findings obtained from qualitatively studying reported research data as well as recorded research papers. No doubt that the topic serves the MENA academic and medical communities at large who are following on "epidemiology of MERS". However, the authors did not relate at the end of their research to recommendations and implications to create preventive measures, to create awareness campaigns, or other neither proposed to policy makers what to do about it. Prodiving information is just one option [in this case for other researchers only/], and knowing that the degree of infection as the authors contend is some how "naturally controlled' because "Heterogeneity of human susceptibility to MERS-CoV infection may be one possible explanation, as also proposed for avian influenza H5N1." The question that should be answered is : What is Next?

    Ongoing discussion