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      A familial cluster of pneumonia associated with the 2019 novel coronavirus indicating person-to-person transmission: a study of a family cluster

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          Summary

          Background

          An ongoing outbreak of pneumonia associated with a novel coronavirus was reported in Wuhan city, Hubei province, China. Affected patients were geographically linked with a local wet market as a potential source. No data on person-to-person or nosocomial transmission have been published to date.

          Methods

          In this study, we report the epidemiological, clinical, laboratory, radiological, and microbiological findings of five patients in a family cluster who presented with unexplained pneumonia after returning to Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China, after a visit to Wuhan, and an additional family member who did not travel to Wuhan. Phylogenetic analysis of genetic sequences from these patients were done.

          Findings

          From Jan 10, 2020, we enrolled a family of six patients who travelled to Wuhan from Shenzhen between Dec 29, 2019 and Jan 4, 2020. Of six family members who travelled to Wuhan, five were identified as infected with the novel coronavirus. Additionally, one family member, who did not travel to Wuhan, became infected with the virus after several days of contact with four of the family members. None of the family members had contacts with Wuhan markets or animals, although two had visited a Wuhan hospital. Five family members (aged 36–66 years) presented with fever, upper or lower respiratory tract symptoms, or diarrhoea, or a combination of these 3–6 days after exposure. They presented to our hospital (The University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital, Shenzhen) 6–10 days after symptom onset. They and one asymptomatic child (aged 10 years) had radiological ground-glass lung opacities. Older patients (aged >60 years) had more systemic symptoms, extensive radiological ground-glass lung changes, lymphopenia, thrombocytopenia, and increased C-reactive protein and lactate dehydrogenase levels. The nasopharyngeal or throat swabs of these six patients were negative for known respiratory microbes by point-of-care multiplex RT-PCR, but five patients (four adults and the child) were RT-PCR positive for genes encoding the internal RNA-dependent RNA polymerase and surface Spike protein of this novel coronavirus, which were confirmed by Sanger sequencing. Phylogenetic analysis of these five patients' RT-PCR amplicons and two full genomes by next-generation sequencing showed that this is a novel coronavirus, which is closest to the bat severe acute respiatory syndrome (SARS)-related coronaviruses found in Chinese horseshoe bats.

          Interpretation

          Our findings are consistent with person-to-person transmission of this novel coronavirus in hospital and family settings, and the reports of infected travellers in other geographical regions.

          Funding

          The Shaw Foundation Hong Kong, Michael Seak-Kan Tong, Respiratory Viral Research Foundation Limited, Hui Ming, Hui Hoy and Chow Sin Lan Charity Fund Limited, Marina Man-Wai Lee, the Hong Kong Hainan Commercial Association South China Microbiology Research Fund, Sanming Project of Medicine (Shenzhen), and High Level-Hospital Program (Guangdong Health Commission).

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          Most cited references18

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          Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-like virus in Chinese horseshoe bats.

          Although the finding of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) in caged palm civets from live animal markets in China has provided evidence for interspecies transmission in the genesis of the SARS epidemic, subsequent studies suggested that the civet may have served only as an amplification host for SARS-CoV. In a surveillance study for CoV in noncaged animals from the wild areas of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region, we identified a CoV closely related to SARS-CoV (bat-SARS-CoV) from 23 (39%) of 59 anal swabs of wild Chinese horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus sinicus) by using RT-PCR. Sequencing and analysis of three bat-SARS-CoV genomes from samples collected at different dates showed that bat-SARS-CoV is closely related to SARS-CoV from humans and civets. Phylogenetic analysis showed that bat-SARS-CoV formed a distinct cluster with SARS-CoV as group 2b CoV, distantly related to known group 2 CoV. Most differences between the bat-SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV genomes were observed in the spike genes, ORF 3 and ORF 8, which are the regions where most variations also were observed between human and civet SARS-CoV genomes. In addition, the presence of a 29-bp insertion in ORF 8 of bat-SARS-CoV genome, not in most human SARS-CoV genomes, suggests that it has a common ancestor with civet SARS-CoV. Antibody against recombinant bat-SARS-CoV nucleocapsid protein was detected in 84% of Chinese horseshoe bats by using an enzyme immunoassay. Neutralizing antibody to human SARS-CoV also was detected in bats with lower viral loads. Precautions should be exercised in the handling of these animals.
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            Characterization and complete genome sequence of a novel coronavirus, coronavirus HKU1, from patients with pneumonia.

            Despite extensive laboratory investigations in patients with respiratory tract infections, no microbiological cause can be identified in a significant proportion of patients. In the past 3 years, several novel respiratory viruses, including human metapneumovirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus (SARS-CoV), and human coronavirus NL63, were discovered. Here we report the discovery of another novel coronavirus, coronavirus HKU1 (CoV-HKU1), from a 71-year-old man with pneumonia who had just returned from Shenzhen, China. Quantitative reverse transcription-PCR showed that the amount of CoV-HKU1 RNA was 8.5 to 9.6 x 10(6) copies per ml in his nasopharyngeal aspirates (NPAs) during the first week of the illness and dropped progressively to undetectable levels in subsequent weeks. He developed increasing serum levels of specific antibodies against the recombinant nucleocapsid protein of CoV-HKU1, with immunoglobulin M (IgM) titers of 1:20, 1:40, and 1:80 and IgG titers of <1:1,000, 1:2,000, and 1:8,000 in the first, second and fourth weeks of the illness, respectively. Isolation of the virus by using various cell lines, mixed neuron-glia culture, and intracerebral inoculation of suckling mice was unsuccessful. The complete genome sequence of CoV-HKU1 is a 29,926-nucleotide, polyadenylated RNA, with G+C content of 32%, the lowest among all known coronaviruses with available genome sequence. Phylogenetic analysis reveals that CoV-HKU1 is a new group 2 coronavirus. Screening of 400 NPAs, negative for SARS-CoV, from patients with respiratory illness during the SARS period identified the presence of CoV-HKU1 RNA in an additional specimen, with a viral load of 1.13 x 10(6) copies per ml, from a 35-year-old woman with pneumonia. Our data support the existence of a novel group 2 coronavirus associated with pneumonia in humans.
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              Discovery of seven novel Mammalian and avian coronaviruses in the genus deltacoronavirus supports bat coronaviruses as the gene source of alphacoronavirus and betacoronavirus and avian coronaviruses as the gene source of gammacoronavirus and deltacoronavirus.

              Recently, we reported the discovery of three novel coronaviruses, bulbul coronavirus HKU11, thrush coronavirus HKU12, and munia coronavirus HKU13, which were identified as representatives of a novel genus, Deltacoronavirus, in the subfamily Coronavirinae. In this territory-wide molecular epidemiology study involving 3,137 mammals and 3,298 birds, we discovered seven additional novel deltacoronaviruses in pigs and birds, which we named porcine coronavirus HKU15, white-eye coronavirus HKU16, sparrow coronavirus HKU17, magpie robin coronavirus HKU18, night heron coronavirus HKU19, wigeon coronavirus HKU20, and common moorhen coronavirus HKU21. Complete genome sequencing and comparative genome analysis showed that the avian and mammalian deltacoronaviruses have similar genome characteristics and structures. They all have relatively small genomes (25.421 to 26.674 kb), the smallest among all coronaviruses. They all have a single papain-like protease domain in the nsp3 gene; an accessory gene, NS6 open reading frame (ORF), located between the M and N genes; and a variable number of accessory genes (up to four) downstream of the N gene. Moreover, they all have the same putative transcription regulatory sequence of ACACCA. Molecular clock analysis showed that the most recent common ancestor of all coronaviruses was estimated at approximately 8100 BC, and those of Alphacoronavirus, Betacoronavirus, Gammacoronavirus, and Deltacoronavirus were at approximately 2400 BC, 3300 BC, 2800 BC, and 3000 BC, respectively. From our studies, it appears that bats and birds, the warm blooded flying vertebrates, are ideal hosts for the coronavirus gene source, bats for Alphacoronavirus and Betacoronavirus and birds for Gammacoronavirus and Deltacoronavirus, to fuel coronavirus evolution and dissemination.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Lancet
                Lancet
                Lancet (London, England)
                Elsevier Ltd.
                0140-6736
                1474-547X
                24 January 2020
                15-21 February 2020
                24 January 2020
                : 395
                : 10223
                : 514-523
                Affiliations
                [a ]State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases, Carol Yu Centre for Infection, Department of Microbiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
                [b ]Department of Clinical Microbiology and Infection Control, The University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital, Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China
                [c ]Department of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital, Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence to: Prof Kwok-Yung Yuen, Department of Clinical Microbiology and Infection Control, The University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital, Shenzhen, Guangdong Province 518009, China kyyuen@ 123456hku.hk
                [*]

                Contributed equally

                Article
                S0140-6736(20)30154-9
                10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30154-9
                7159286
                31986261
                bab038a9-2254-4762-9f17-d8035b0a853c
                © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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