London, May 3 :
Nasal discharge of camels could transmit the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus to men, alarming research has indicated.
The MERS coronavirus that has already cost more than 100 human lives is currently spreading very rapidly in the Arab world.
The researchers found that viruses from infected humans and Arabian camels from the same geographical region have nearly identical RNA sequences.
“This indicates transmission between animals and man. The process is referred to as zoonosis,” said Norbert Nowotny from Institute of Virology, University of Veterinary Medicine in Austria.
For the study, the scientists investigated nasal and conjunctival swabs, taken from 76 camels in Oman.
Virus levels were surprisingly high in the nasal mucosa and conjunctiva of camels.
The transmission pathway from animals to humans most likely occurs through these contact sites, especially through nasal discharge, the scientists presumed.
“Vaccinations of camels are currently being discussed. We will thus be able to halt the spread of the virus,” Nowotny added.
The study appeared in the journal Eurosurveillance.