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Identity Between Bisha Bat and First MERS-CoV KSA Case
Recombinomics Commentary 18:30
August 21, 2013

Virus from 1 bat showed 100% nucleotide identity to virus from the human index case-patient.

The above comments from the EID paper, Middle East Syndrome Respiratory Virus in Bats, Saudi Arabia, indicate a reservoir for the MERS-CoV sequences found in human cases has been identified. 

Although the sequence generate from Taphozous perforatus is only 181 BP and within a highly conserved gene (positions 15068-15249 of RNA dependent RNA polymerase), the 100% identity, which includes T15196C, which is uniquely found in EMC/12, strongly suggests that the entire genome will be very closely (>99.5%) related to the human sequences (especially the sub-clade represented by EMC/12 and Jordan-N3) representing a source for the fatal infection of the first confirmed case (60M), who developed symptoms in June, 2012 and died on June 14.  The bat sequence was from a sample collected in Bisha ruins (<12 km from the home of the  60M fatal case) and is much more closely related to the human sequences than prior bat beta2c sequences from samples outside of KSA.

Although the sequence data are limited (likely due to the holding of samples at 25 C for 48 hours at US customs), this identity raises the strong possibility of multiple introductions into the human population in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Middle East.

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