The Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus in the breath of some infected dromedary camels (Camelus dromedarius)

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Abstract

Dromedary camels remain the currently identified reservoir for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The virus is released in the secretions of the infected camels, especially the nasal tract. The virus shedding curve through the nasal secretions was studied. Although human transmission of the virus through the respiratory tract of close contact people with dromedary reported previously, the exact mechanism of transmission is still largely unknown. The main goal of this study was to check the possibility of MERS-CoV shedding in the exhaled air of the infected camels. To achieve this goal, we conducted a follow-up study in one of the dromedary camel herds, Dec 2018-April 2019. We tested nasal swabs, breath samples from animals within this herd by the real-time PCR. Our results showed that some of the tested nasal swabs and breath were positive from Mar 24th 2019 until April 7th 2019. The phylogenetic analysis of the obtained S and N gene sequences revealed the detected viruses are clustering together with some humans and camels samples from the eastern region, especially from Al-hufuf city, as well as some samples from Qatar and Jordon. These results are clearly showing the possibility of shedding of the virus in the breath of the infected camels. This could explain, at least in part, the mechanism of transmission of MERS-CoV from animals to humans. This study is confirming the shedding of MERS-CoV in the exhaled air of the infected camels. Further studies are needed for a better understanding of the MERS-CoV.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEpidemiology and Infection
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Breath
  • Dromedary camels
  • MERS-CoV
  • Phylogenetic analysis
  • Real-time PCR

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