This was something new. Last September, an Egyptian virologist announced what it was: The illness was caused by a new virus in a family called coronaviruses, which includes the virus responsible for severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. Several months later, epidemiologists named the new illness MERS, for Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome. MERS, like its relative SARS, probably originated in animals.
Those revelations only bred more questions. First, where did this new virus come from, and how? Tracking a disease's jump from animals to humans often means untangling a very complicated scientific mystery - a mystery that, in the interest of public health, must be solved quickly.
How a virus spreads from animals to humans
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