Thursday 15 August 2013

Its probably not a MERS-CoV!

I commented on a news article from tweeted by @pandemic_News yesterday....

The article's headline had read MERS corona kills cat in the East. It seems to have been picked up some others overnight. 

I notice the headline has been changed today. [UPDATE 160813-the concept of a "feline reservoir has not been picked up by ProMED and a new version can be found at the Saudi Gazette.]

MERS-CoV is not the only CoV on the block of course. Have a look at the phylogenetic tree I posted a few days back - there are lots of CoVs and they infest a large number of different animals. The feline coronavirus (feline infectious peritonitis virus; FIPV) is an alphacoronavirus. It's well known. [UPDATE] It's probably the cause here. There is no evidence to support MERS-CoV in these animals. None.

I think headlines like this are akin to spam email - try and find a fact in there that has, or can be, verified from a trusted source, think about whether it makes sense (is this website likely to be the first one to report on MERS-CoV in cats?) or look for a reference in the text to an entirely different source (like a lab test result for example). That approach is not foolproof - but it's better than believing something so dramatically different from what we currently know, on first read.

1 comment:

  1. My general rule of thumb in science reporting in the media is to assume it's wrong. If it's an interesting subject, the article is just a trigger for me to go work out what the actual story is.

    This attitude has served me pretty well.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.