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Household pets like cats, dogs to be tested for MERS

Animals like goats and sheep had been tested but showed no signs of exposure

Published: Updated:

Household pets like cats and dogs are set to be tested for the MERS virus, as scientists find that animals carry the same version of the virus that is currently affecting humans.

Columbia University’s Dr Thomas Briese is the lead author of a recent study that looks at the spread of MERS in animal populations.

He told the BBC that his team was looking into the infection in animals.

“The others that we are looking into or are trying to look into are cats, dogs - where there is more intimate contact - and any other wild species we can get serum from that we are not currently getting.”

He added that other animals like goats and sheep had been tested but showed no signs of exposure, and suggested that research be extended to domestic animals considering the close living conditions between such animals and humans.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome has now been identified by the World Health Organization as a “threat to the entire world,” but experts admit there are a great many “unknowns” in our knowledge of how exactly the is spreads.

MERS was originally found in a patient in Saudi Arabia but since then, almost 600 cases of the infection have been discovered worldwide.