In an upcoming article in Emerging Infectious Diseases, researchers are reporting that a coronavirus sample from a bat in South Africa is currently the closest match to the MERS-CoV that has infected more than 90 people around the world since 2012.  The sample, PML/2011, was collected from a female Neoromicia zuluensis bat in 2011. The genus Neoromicia is included in the Vespertilionidae bat family. Because this sample was collected before the human outbreak, the authors suggest that MERS-CoV may have originated in bat populations in eastern or southern Africa and spread to the Arabian Peninsula. This new development means that surveillance for human MERS-CoV cases need to be expanded beyond the Arabian Peninsula into Africa as well. Additional coronavirus research on Vespertilionidae bats in Kenya and surrounding countries is urgently needed.
 Ithete NL, Stoffberg S, Corman VM, Cottontail VM, Richards LR, Schoeman MC, et al. Close relative of human Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus in bat, South Africa [letter]. Emerg Infect Dis [Internet]. 2013 Oct. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1910.130946