Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a highly lethal respiratory disease caused by a novel betacoronavirus (MERS coronavirus, MERS-CoV). Since its first emergence in 2012, multiple transmission events of MERS-CoV (dromedary to human and human to human) have been reported, indicating that MERS-CoV has the potential to cause widespread outbreak. However, the epidemiology of MERS as well as immune responses against the virus in animal models and patients are still not well understood, hindering the vaccine and therapeutic developments. In this review, we summarize recent genetic and epidemic findings of MERS-CoV and the progress in animal model development, immune response studies in both animals and humans. At last, we discussed the breakthrough on vaccine and therapeutic development which are important against potential future MERS outbreak.
With the MERS-CoV circulating in the dromedary camels in the Middle East region, efforts regarding epidemic surveillance, phylogenetic analysis, vaccine and antiviral drug developments were still needed to response to the global public health threat posed by this virus. Unlike SARS-CoV, the virus and host interaction as well as pathogenesis and immune responses after MERS-CoV infection in animals and humans are less investigated. Understanding these basic informations will not only enhance emerging CoV research but also will aid our public health preparedness against MERS-CoV
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