MERS Sequence Analysis

The strain of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus currently circulating in South Korea is highly similar to the one in the pathogen’s namesake region.

Jun 11, 2015
Tracy Vence

WIKIMEDIA; MAUREEN METCALFE, CYNTHIA GOLDSMITH, AND AZAIBI TAMINAnalyzing the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) strain isolated from the ongoing outbreak in South Korea, World Health Organization (WHO) officials found it phenotypically similar to a strain isolated in Saudi Arabia, where the virus was first identified. Sequencing MERS-CoV samples from South Korea and China, WHO officials this week (June 8) reported that “the new MERS-CoVs are unlikely to be phenotypically different from the MERS-CoV currently circulating in the Arabian Peninsula and are unlikely to present different virulence or transmission properties.”

“Further clinical, epidemiological and virus genetic data will be required to be certain of these preliminary conclusions. In addition, there is an urgency to increase sequencing efforts in all countries where MERS-CoV is circulating,” the WHO added in its report. “This will increase our knowledge of transmission patterns and inform public health measures required to prevent transmission.”
 

(Hat tip: NPR’s Goats and Soda)