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Last updated at 15:32 BST, Friday, 09 August 2013

Camels could be source of deadly virus

Summary

9 August 2013

Scientists studying a deadly virus say they are closer to finding its source. Research suggests that camels could be responsible for passing Middle East Respiratory Syndrome - or MERS - to humans. The study is published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Reporter:

Rebecca Morelle

Dromedary camels in Egypt

Scientists want to test dromedary camels in the Middle East.

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Report

This deadly virus first emerged in the Middle East last year. So far, it's infected nearly 100 people, killing about half of them - and scientists have been striving to understand how it spreads.

Now tests have revealed that dromedary camels in Oman and the Canary Islands have signs of the virus in their blood. Scientists have found antibodies that show that the animals were once infected with the Mers virus, or one that's very similar.

This, though, doesn't offer definitive proof that camels are reservoirs for the disease. For that, scientists need to look at animals from the country where the virus is most prevalent - Saudi Arabia - to see if they carry the infection. Researchers say confirming the source of the virus is a priority and will be crucial for halting its spread.

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Vocabulary

striving

making a great effort

spreads

goes from one person to another

antibodies

substances which are a part of blood and which help to protect against diseases

reservoirs

sources

prevalent

widespread, frequent

priority

most important consideration, task to be dealt with first

crucial

very important

halting

stopping

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