In 2012, a novel HCo V, termed Middle East respiratory syndrome Co V (MERS-Co V), was detected in a patient with a fatal respiratory infection in Saudi Arabia (5).
As of 11 June 2014, MERS-Co V infection has been diagnosed in 699 patients, mainly from the Arabian Peninsula, with a case fatality rate potentially exceeding the rate observed during the SARS pandemic (6).
Because camels on the Arabian Peninsula show high rates of neutralizing antibodies against MERS-Co V and harbor viruses that are genetically highly related to those from human cases, these animals are considered to constitute the source of human infections (7–9).
High rates of antibodies against MERS-Co V were recently found in African camels, and a MERS-Co V strain was detected in an Egyptian camel likely imported from Sudan (10–12). The prototype clade c betacoronaviruses, termed HKU4 and HKU5, were detected in bats (15).
We determined that Neo Co V belongs to the same viral species defined by MERS-Co V based upon established taxonomic criteria (1, 21).
Analysis of the Neo Co V genome pointed toward nonrecent recombination events within the MERS-Co V species.
Because these sequence fragments encompassed only a few hundred nucleotides from a single gene, the bat Co V, referred to here as Neo Co V.We characterized the full genome of an African bat virus closely related to MERS-Co V and show that human, camel, and bat viruses belong to the same viral species.The bat virus roots the phylogenetic tree of MERS-Co V, providing evidence for an evolution of MERS-Co V in camels that preceded that in humans.Eighty-five percent of the Neo Co V genome was identical to MERS-Co V at the nucleotide level.Based on taxonomic criteria, Neo Co V and MERS-Co V belonged to one viral species.