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Virus causing Middle East respiratory syndrome found in a bat in Saudi Arabia

Z. A. Memish, N. Mishra, K. J. Olival, S. F. Fagbo, V. Kapoor, J. H. Epstein and others

MIDDLE East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which is caused by a coronavirus, was first described in September 2012 and since then over 90 cases have been reported in people worldwide, 70 in Saudi Arabia. Mortality among those who received clinical care has been around 65 per cent and, although some human-to-human transmissions have been documented, the mode of infection for most cases remains unknown. The aim of this Saudi Arabian study was to assess whether bats may play a role in transmission of the disease, either directly or through vectors.

In the first investigation, the authors collected samples from bats found within 12 km of the home of an index case patient. Samples were taken from two orchards near to the individual's home and workplace. The bats were captured in nets and then traps, sampled, and then released.

The researchers collected faecal samples from bat roosting sites across Saudi Arabia and identified a representative sample of bats at each site, taking blood samples for DNA analysis.

All samples were analysed for the presence of coronaviruses and the species of …

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