It took roughly a year after the first human infection with MERS-CoV was announced out of Saudi Arabia for dromedary camels to be identified as a host species for the MERS coronavirus (see 2013’s The Lancet Camels Found With Antibodies To MERS-CoV-Like Virus). While bats are believed to be the primary host reservoir for MERS, SARS, and an array of other novel pathogens (see Curr. Opinion Virology: Viruses In Bats & Potential Spillover To Animals And Humans), the hunt continues for other susceptible species where these viruses may reside.
NH: There had been a significant increase in date tree cultivation in Saudi Arabia to serve increased worldwide demand for dates. That increase led naturally to an increase in the bat population and the possibilities of a new variant of disease to be passed on to animals and humans.