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Camels Infected Humans With The Common Cold Virus

First Posted: Aug 22, 2016 04:00 AM EDT
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A team of international researchers has recently found has recently found that one of the four coronaviruses most commonly pointed out as the cause for the cold, a virus known as HCoV-229E, came from camels before being transmitted to humans.

Independent.co.uk reported that the first human to get sick with a cold may have gotten it from a camel. They revealed that the cold was from the same animal that caused the deadly, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, more popularly known as MERS. The recent study claims that camels may be responsible for more infections that what was originally thought. Aside from rhinoviruses and the three other coronaviruses, it turns out that HCoV-229E is one of the main virus that causes the common cold people suffer from.

Lead researcher Christian Drosten, from the University Hospital of Bonn in Germany said: "In our MERS investigations we examined about 1,000 camels for coronaviruses and were surprised to find pathogens that are related to 'HCoV-229E', the human common cold virus, in almost 6 percent of the cases."

For the study, Science Alert reported that the scientists collected samples of the camels' viruses and found that they can infect humans. However, the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said that the tests revealed no apparent danger of a new cold epidemic because humans' immune system has already been prepped against it. It was also said that a number of human disease were first thought to have infected other animals before mutating genetically. The mutation was believed to give the viruses characteristics that allowed them to infect humans.

"The MERS virus is a strange pathogen: smaller, regionally restricted outbreaks, for example in hospitals, keep occurring. Fortunately, the virus has not adapted well enough to humans, and has consequently been unable to spread globally up to now," Drosten said. However, there is still reason to believe that the common cold virus will eventually evolve to spread between humans, which will then evolve MERS at some point. This is something experts need to keep their eye on, tribuneindia.com reported.

"Our current study gives us a warning sign regarding the risk of a MERS pandemic - because MERS could perhaps do what HCoV-229E did," Drosten added.

Clinical trials for MERS vaccine is schedule starting 2017. By that time, researchers would have hopefully gained a better understanding of the disease and what systems work behind it, which will enable them to find new ways to treat patients infected with MERS and ways to permanently stop it from spreading.

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