AUG 23, 2016 6:35 PM PDT

Common Cold Strain Likely Originated in Camels

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

The common cold comes from rhinoviruses and four main subgroups of coronavirus. Researchers have now identified the source of one of those types; it originated in camels. The MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) virus was first identified in humans in 2012. It is another type of coronavirus that results in serious respiratory tract infections that can often be fatal. Awhile ago, it was shown that dromedaries were the animal source of the virus.

"In our MERS investigations we examined about 1,000 camels for coronaviruses and were surprised to find pathogens that are related to 'HCoV-229E', the human common cold virus, in almost six percent of the cases," said Professor Christian Drosten of the Institute of Virology at the University Hospital of Bonn.

Further molecular genetic study demonstrated that the virus was transmitted to humans from camels. The scientists found, however, that the the human immune system is able to defend against camel viruses. Additionally, people have widespread immunity to the HCoV-229E cold virus.

"Our current study gives us a warning sign regarding the risk of a MERS pandemic -- because MERS could perhaps do what HCoV-229E did." To address that threat, DZIF researchers are hard at work developing a vaccine against MERS; a candidate will enter clinical testing early next year.
About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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