Study: Israeli camels exposed to MERS, but no sign of virus circulation

CIDRAP 
By: Radio Times
Photo: Courtesy of Pixabay
 
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Tests on camels and their relatives in Israel, a country that hasn't reported any human MERS-CoV cases, found that although the animals may have been exposed to the virus in the past, there wasn't any sign of active circulation during the study period, according to researchers who looked at blood and nasal swabs collected from 2012 to 2017.

In other MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) developments, Saudi Arabia reported another human illness, involving a 66-year-old man who had contact with camels.

Antibody titers lower than in nearby nations

In the camelid study, researchers from Israel and Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands said evidence for MERS-CoV in dromedary camels has been reported for nearly all of the Middle East, except for Israel.

Reporting in the journal One Health, they said the dromedary camel population in Israel is thought to range between 3,000 and 5,000, many of them kept by semi-nomadic Bedouin people in the Negev Desert. Also, they said the Negev is home to one of the largest herd of alpacas and llamas outside of South America.

To look for evidence of past exposure to MERS-CoV, the scientists collected blood samples from 2012 through 2017: 411 from camels, 102 from alpacas, and 19 from llamas. Eighteen of 20 camel farms they visited were in Negev, and the alpacas and llamas were from one farm in Negev.

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