MERS and the dromedary camel trade between Africa and the Middle East.Trop Anim Health Prod. 2016 Aug; 48(6):1277-82.TA
Dromedary camels are the most likely source for the coronavirus that sporadically causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in humans. Serological results from archived camel sera provide evidence for circulation of MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV) among dromedary camels in the Greater Horn of Africa as far back as 1983 and in Saudi Arabia as far back as 1992. High seroprevalences of MERS-CoV antibodies and the high virus prevalence in Saudi Arabian dromedary camels indicate an endemicity of the virus in the Arabian Peninsula, which predates the 2012 human MERS index case. Saudi Arabian dromedary camels show significantly higher MERS-CoV carrier rates than dromedary camels imported from Africa. Two MERS-CoV lineages identified in Nigerian camels were found to be genetically distinct from those found in camels and humans in the Middle East. This supports the hypothesis that camel imports from Africa are not of significance for circulation of the virus in camel populations of the Arabian Peninsula.