The Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronovirus, which has so far killed 71 people and is believed to have its origins in the Middle East, has been discovered in three camels on a farm in Qatar.
Previous studies into the coronavirus, of which the majority of victims have been in Saudi Arabia, have supported a theory that camels are spreading the pathogen.
Researchers from Qatar and the Netherlands wrote in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal that the infected dromedary camels were from a barn about 19 miles outside of the Gulf state’s capital Doha.
The farm is owned by a 61-year-old man who was found to be infected with the coronavirus in October. A 23-year-old worker was also found to be infected.
Previous research has also theorised that bats could be a natural reservoir for the pathogen, although researchers say that the latest findings do not necessarily disprove this.
“A further possibility remains that humans and camels could have been infected from a third as yet unknown source,” the journal said.
Human cases of MERS, which can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia, have so far been reported in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Tunisia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain.