DESERT ENEMY

Camels Likely Source of MERS Outbreak

A new study suggests that camels may be behind the recent deadly surge in cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Three-quarters of camels in Saudi Arabia tested positive for a strain of the MERS virus almost identical to the one found in humans; in some regions, 100 percent of camels had it. However, the camels were not damaged by the virus, suggesting the potential for investigating and curbing human cases of MERS. “Given these new data, we are now investigating potential routes for human infection through exposure to camel milk or meat products,” says Abdulaziz Alagaili of King Saud University, who worked on the study along with researchers at Columbia University.