On the Origin of (a Virus) Species

I wrote a piece on the MERS coronavirus a while ago for the Cambridge University BlueSci magazine. The story has moved on since (with an increased number of cases in the Middle East, and the first infections recorded in the US, including human-to-human transmission), but it’s still a useful round-up of the beginning of the MERS story.

The full piece can be found at the BlueSci website (and in print), but here’s an excerpt I particularly enjoyed writing, even if it does stretch the term ‘animal reservoir’ to near breaking point:

When using the phrase ‘animal reservoir’, most imagine the animal kingdom spreading parasites and viruses via malarial mosquitoes, rabies-infected dogs, and Dustin Hoffman chasing a screeching ebolavirus- riddled capuchin monkey in the 1995 film, Outbreak. Not camels.


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