Camel MERS Antibodies Raise Surveillance Concerns

Tuesday, September 10, 2013
By Paul Martin
September 9, 2013

Sera from dromedary camels (n=110), water buffaloes (n=8) and cows (n=25) were collected from two abattoirs, one located in Cairo and the second located in the Qalyubia governorate in the Nile Delta region. The dromedary camels were mostly imported from Sudan for slaughter and were five to seven years-old. Upon import, they were held on Egyptian farms for four to five months before transport to the abattoirs in open trucks.

Sera from dromedary camels had a high prevalence of antibody reactive to MERS-CoV by MERS NT (93.6%) and MERS ppNT (98.2%) assay. The antibody titres ranged up to 1,280 and higher in MN assays and 10,240 and higher in ppNT assays.

The above comments from a recent Eurosurveillance paper describe results that are similar to an earlier report in Lancet Infectios Diseases on MERS related antibodies in racing camels from Oman. In that study titers and frequencies were higher in camels from Oman tan those on the Canary Island, and activity was not detected in other species. Moreover, the activity was specific for MERS-CoV. Other beta coronavirus targets (OC43 and SARS-CoV) were negative, indicating the activity was against a beta coronavirus that was closely related to MERS-CoV, which was probably MERS-CoV.

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