Jordan MERS cases rise to 16; no new Saudi cases
Jordan's health ministry today reported another MERS-CoV case, involving a 53-year-old man who had contact with an earlier case, according to a report from Kuwait News Agency (KUNA). The story's Amman dateline and the man's status as a contact suggest that his infection is likely related to a hospital outbreak in the Jordanian capital.
The latest MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) illness reflects the 16th recent case in Jordan, 6 of which were fatal. A hospital outbreak has been under way in Amman since the end of August.
Oct 7 KUNA story
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has now gone 6 days without a MERS case, according to an update today from the country's Ministry of Health (MOH). It reported one more recovery from the disease and noted that 16 people are still being treated for their infections. Since the virus was first detected in Saudi Arabia in 2012, a total of 1,251 illnesses have been reported, 536 of them fatal.
In a related development, representatives from Saudi Arabia's agriculture and health ministries will hold a meeting with camel owners later this month to discuss ways to protect people and animals from MERS-CoV, Arab News reported today. Camels are thought to be the main source of the virus, but it's still unclear what other animals might play a role.
The government recently barred the practice of camel sacrifice during the Hajj pilgrimage as a step to reduce the threat. Health officials have had a tough time getting camel owners on board with some of the measures, and some owners have threatened legal action against government agencies that say camels are the main source of MERS-CoV.
Oct 7 Saudi MOH statement
Oct 7 Arab News story
Chinese scientists find SARS-like virus in horseshoe bats
Chinese researchers have identified SARS-like coronaviruses (SL-CoVs) in horseshoe bats in that country, highlighting a potential reservoir of human SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), according to a new study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
The researchers conducted genetic analyses on bat samples from across the country, as well as samples from wild and domestic civets in three provinces. They found 15 SL-CoVs from nine bat species in 11 provinces but no such viruses in the civets.
They noted that the SL-CoVs are characterized by a set of unique accessory open reading frames (ORFs) located between the M and N genes of the virus. Among the unique accessory ORFs, ORF8 was noted as highly variable, and the investigators noted that one of its three types—type 1—had not before been identified in bat populations. Further, they noted that the two ORF8 type 1 viruses that were identified only in Rhinolophus sinicus, or Chinese horseshoe bats, were closely related to human SARS viruses.
The authors conclude, "This finding provides new genetic evidence for Chinese horseshoe bats as the source of human SARS-CoV."
Oct 3 J Infect Dis abstract