Erasmus scientists progressing on MERS vaccine

MERS virus (Photo: Scinceside/Wikimedia Commons). (MERS virus (Photo: Scinceside/Wikimedia Commons))

Professor Bart Haagmans and his team of scientists at the Erasmus Medical Center believe that they are one step closer to developing a vaccine that protects against the MERS virus. Their vaccine managed to protect camels from developing symptoms of the virus, BBC reports.

Dromedary camels are believed to be the initial source of human outbreaks of the MERS virus. The virus is thought to spread when humans have contact with an infected animal's body fluid.

The first documented case of a MERS virus infection in a human was in 2012 in Saudi Arabia. Since then the virus spread to 26 countries with more than 1,600 reported cases of human infection. A third of these resulted in death. The virus spreads through close contact with an infected individual. There are no treatments.

According to the BBC, the Erasmus scientists managed to create a vaccine which, though it didn't protect the vaccinated camels from being infected, did protect them from developing symptoms and the amount of virus they produced is was very low.