HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) - Scientists at a western Montana laboratory are teaming with researchers at a university in the Netherlands to determine whether a newly discovered, deadly virus can spread from person to person.

The Ravalli Republic reports the new coronavirus was identified when a man died in Saudi Arabia in September. Five others died in Qatar and Saudi Arabia in November.

Researchers at Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton are studying the virus in hamsters and rhesus monkeys while those in the Netherlands are studying it in ferrets and another type of monkey.

RML scientist Heinz Feldman says the virus appears to cause severe lung and kidney damage. He says the research aims to find the best animal to mimic a human infection to understand how it causes disease and whether it can be transmitted among humans.