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      Detection of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Genome in an Air Sample Originating from a Camel Barn Owned by an Infected Patient

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          ABSTRACT

          Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a novel betacoronavirus that has been circulating in the Arabian Peninsula since 2012 and causing severe respiratory infections in humans. While bats were suggested to be involved in human MERS-CoV infections, a direct link between bats and MERS-CoV is uncertain. On the other hand, serological and virological data suggest dromedary camels as the potential animal reservoirs of MERS-CoV. Recently, we isolated MERS-CoV from a camel and its infected owner and provided evidence for the direct transmission of MERS-CoV from the infected camel to the patient. Here, we extend this work and show that identical MERS-CoV RNA fragments were detected in an air sample collected from the same barn that sheltered the infected camel in our previous study. These data indicate that the virus was circulating in this farm concurrently with its detection in the camel and in the patient, which warrants further investigations for the possible airborne transmission of MERS-CoV.

          IMPORTANCE

          This work clearly highlights the importance of continuous surveillance and infection control measures to control the global public threat of MERS-CoV. While current MERS-CoV transmission appears to be limited, we advise minimal contact with camels, especially for immunocompromised individuals, and the use of appropriate health, safety, and infection prevention and control measures when dealing with infected patients. Also, detailed clinical histories of any MERS-CoV cases with epidemiological and laboratory investigations carried out for any animal exposure must be considered to identify any animal source.

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          Most cited references 21

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          Isolation of a novel coronavirus from a man with pneumonia in Saudi Arabia.

          A previously unknown coronavirus was isolated from the sputum of a 60-year-old man who presented with acute pneumonia and subsequent renal failure with a fatal outcome in Saudi Arabia. The virus (called HCoV-EMC) replicated readily in cell culture, producing cytopathic effects of rounding, detachment, and syncytium formation. The virus represents a novel betacoronavirus species. The closest known relatives are bat coronaviruses HKU4 and HKU5. Here, the clinical data, virus isolation, and molecular identification are presented. The clinical picture was remarkably similar to that of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 and reminds us that animal coronaviruses can cause severe disease in humans.
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            Hospital outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus.

            In September 2012, the World Health Organization reported the first cases of pneumonia caused by the novel Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). We describe a cluster of health care-acquired MERS-CoV infections. Medical records were reviewed for clinical and demographic information and determination of potential contacts and exposures. Case patients and contacts were interviewed. The incubation period and serial interval (the time between the successive onset of symptoms in a chain of transmission) were estimated. Viral RNA was sequenced. Between April 1 and May 23, 2013, a total of 23 cases of MERS-CoV infection were reported in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia. Symptoms included fever in 20 patients (87%), cough in 20 (87%), shortness of breath in 11 (48%), and gastrointestinal symptoms in 8 (35%); 20 patients (87%) presented with abnormal chest radiographs. As of June 12, a total of 15 patients (65%) had died, 6 (26%) had recovered, and 2 (9%) remained hospitalized. The median incubation period was 5.2 days (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.9 to 14.7), and the serial interval was 7.6 days (95% CI, 2.5 to 23.1). A total of 21 of the 23 cases were acquired by person-to-person transmission in hemodialysis units, intensive care units, or in-patient units in three different health care facilities. Sequencing data from four isolates revealed a single monophyletic clade. Among 217 household contacts and more than 200 health care worker contacts whom we identified, MERS-CoV infection developed in 5 family members (3 with laboratory-confirmed cases) and in 2 health care workers (both with laboratory-confirmed cases). Person-to-person transmission of MERS-CoV can occur in health care settings and may be associated with considerable morbidity. Surveillance and infection-control measures are critical to a global public health response.
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              Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus neutralising serum antibodies in dromedary camels: a comparative serological study

              Summary Background A new betacoronavirus—Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)—has been identified in patients with severe acute respiratory infection. Although related viruses infect bats, molecular clock analyses have been unable to identify direct ancestors of MERS-CoV. Anecdotal exposure histories suggest that patients had been in contact with dromedary camels or goats. We investigated possible animal reservoirs of MERS-CoV by assessing specific serum antibodies in livestock. Methods We took sera from animals in the Middle East (Oman) and from elsewhere (Spain, Netherlands, Chile). Cattle (n=80), sheep (n=40), goats (n=40), dromedary camels (n=155), and various other camelid species (n=34) were tested for specific serum IgG by protein microarray using the receptor-binding S1 subunits of spike proteins of MERS-CoV, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus, and human coronavirus OC43. Results were confirmed by virus neutralisation tests for MERS-CoV and bovine coronavirus. Findings 50 of 50 (100%) sera from Omani camels and 15 of 105 (14%) from Spanish camels had protein-specific antibodies against MERS-CoV spike. Sera from European sheep, goats, cattle, and other camelids had no such antibodies. MERS-CoV neutralising antibody titres varied between 1/320 and 1/2560 for the Omani camel sera and between 1/20 and 1/320 for the Spanish camel sera. There was no evidence for cross-neutralisation by bovine coronavirus antibodies. Interpretation MERS-CoV or a related virus has infected camel populations. Both titres and seroprevalences in sera from different locations in Oman suggest widespread infection. Funding European Union, European Centre For Disease Prevention and Control, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                mBio
                MBio
                mbio
                mbio
                mBio
                mBio
                American Society of Microbiology (1752 N St., N.W., Washington, DC )
                2150-7511
                22 July 2014
                Jul-Aug 2014
                : 5
                : 4
                Affiliations
                [ a ]Special Infectious Agents Unit, King Fahd Medical Research Center, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
                [ b ]Department of Medical Laboratory Technology, Faculty of Applied Medical Sciences, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
                [ c ]Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
                [ d ]Environmental Science Department, Faculty of Metrology, Environmental Science & Arid Land Agriculture, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
                [ e ]Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
                [ f ]Scientific Chair of Mohammad Hussein Alamoudi for Viral Hemorrhagic Fever, King Fahd Medical Research Center, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
                Author notes
                Address correspondence to Esam I. Azhar, eazhar@ 123456kau.edu.sa .

                Editor Michael Katze, University of Washington

                Article
                mBio01450-14
                10.1128/mBio.01450-14
                4120199
                25053787
                Copyright © 2014 Azhar et al.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license, which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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                Pages: 4
                Categories
                Observation
                Custom metadata
                July/August 2014

                Life sciences

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