Dr. Ram Shukla published an article entitled “12 fast facts about MERS-CoV” earlier today here:
Unfortunately, one of the “fast facts” is a little too fast for the science to support.
Dr. Shukla states: “Mostly carried by bats but also some other vertebrates, the MERS Coronovirus spreads very rapidly in animals…” Actually – MERS-CoV has yet to be detected in any animal – as reported by the World Organization for Animal Health, just last week. A close relative of MERS-CoV was detected in one bat from South Africa, also as reported last week. One of the most disturbing aspects about MERS-CoV is that a year after it was first found, people are still being infected, but the direct source of their infections has yet to be found. Most of the rest of what Dr. Shukla wrote as fact “1.” – may eventually prove to be true, but for now it is just a plausible hypothesis – nothing more.
One of my de facto “other duties as required” tasks at work is to be a point of communication to co-workers relating to pandemic preparedness. I keep up by setting news alerts for topics of interest, and following WHO, CDC and a variety of science writers on Twitter. I have been struck lately by the wide variety of different spins that end up in the media, all from the same source. I’m hoping explore the science, and get back to understanding just what the data tells us – no more and no less.