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Deadly Respiratory Infection Took Hold in Bats, Study Says

Deadly Respiratory Infection Took Hold in Bats, Study Says

10/11/13

FRIDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) -- A new and deadly respiratory virus in the Middle East was present in bats for a long time before making the leap to humans, a new study indicates.

To learn more about the origins of the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), researchers analyzed the genomes of seven bat species. They found that bat DPP4 genes showed signs of significant adaptation, which suggests that bats have been trying to fight the virus for a long time.

Previous research has shown that MERS uses the DPP4 receptor to enter cells.

The researchers also analyzed the genomes of a number of other mammals and found that the DPP4 genes in bats were under more pressure, with mutations occurring at a faster rate.

This indicates that MERS not only originated in bats but also evolved over an extended length of time in bats before making the jump to infect humans, possibly moving between bats and humans through another species.

The study was published online Oct. 10 in the Virology Journal.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about MERS.

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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