Thursday 5 November 2015

It was the camel, in the library, with the MERS-CoV...

In a paper out overnight, which is assigned to the January 1st 2016 edition of Emerging Infectious Diseases (why do you do this to us EID?!), Alraddadi and colleagues (overwhelmingly from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States) have published Risk Factors for Primary Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Illness in Humans, Saudi Arabia, 2014

This is a long awaited case control study. Long awaited.

From [2]
It tells us that direct contact with dromedary camels (including the act of milking them) in Saudi Arabia, in the 2 weeks prior to symptoms ascribed to a confirmed MERS-CoV infection, is a significant risk factor for developing Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) disease. Cattle contact also fell out as a significant risk. 

However, cases were no more likely than controls to report exposure to bats, goats, horses, sheep or consumption of fruits, vegetables, or animal products, including uncooked meat, unpasteurized animal milk, or dromedary urine. 

The study also reminds us that the host factors of diabetes, heart diseases and smoking are associated with MERS (the disease, not how likely you are to get infected). If you do not have these then you may be more likely to have mild or asymptomatic outcomes if you were to be exposed and infected by MERS-CoV.

These are astounding findings that will take many by surprise and revolutionize out understanding of MERS (the disease) and MERS-CoV (the virus) throughout the Arabian Peninsula. 

Said no-one. Ever.

Ridiculous sarcasm aside though, much kudos to the Saudi research community! This case-control study, a long-awaited piece of work, was a camel that had to be broken by them for them, and now it has been. A win for science and for the region's science.

I hope the study helps to confirm the sizable pool of research that has come before.

But let's not lose sight of the camel in the room; most human cases of MERS come from other human infections closely associated with healthcare settings.

Defeating MERS and MERS-CoV requires battles on many fronts. As usual for any emerging viral disease. 

But then, it's a OneHealth kinda world.


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