Did humans acquire common cold virus from camels?

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) are coronaviruses that can infect and kill humans. A new study sheds light on their origins and ecological history, which thus far have been largely unknown.

By sequencing and comparing the genes of coronaviruses in dromedary camels, bats and humans, an international research team has discovered that these viruses are related to a specific species of the human common cold virus known as HCoV-229E, transmitted to humans from camels1.

“By studying the genes of coronaviruses, we can better understand where these viruses came from. They most probably came from bats, but when they jumped from bats to camels remains unknown,” says Ulrich Wernery from the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. read more

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