Ahead of Print -MERS Coronavirus Neutralizing Antibodies in Camels, Eastern Africa, 1983–1997 - Volume 20, Number 12—December 2014 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC
Volume 20, Number 12—December 2014
MERS Coronavirus Neutralizing Antibodies in Camels, Eastern Africa, 1983–1997
Since 2012, a newly emerged human pathogenic coronavirus (CoV) has caused an ongoing epidemic on the Arabian Peninsula. The designated Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)-CoV belongs to theBetacoronavirus genus lineage C and causes severe respiratory disease in humans (1). As of July 2, 2014, MERS-CoV has caused ≈842 human infections, including 322 deaths (2). Dromedary camels are a putative source for MERS-CoV infection in humans. Dromedaries from countries in Africa (Egypt, Tunisia, Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya) and Arabia (United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, and Jordan) have shown high rates of MERS-CoV seropositivity in serum samples collected during the past 2 decades (3–9). In addition, MERS-CoV nucleotide sequences and virus were detected in respiratory swab samples, predominantly from juvenile dromedaries (5,10). Transmission between humans and camels has been described in Qatar and Saudi Arabia (11,12). No autochthonous MERS-CoV infections in humans have been reported in Africa. Most dromedary camels traded in the Middle East are bred in the Greater Horn of Africa, primarily in Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, and Kenya (13). To further analyze the spatial and temporal distribution of MERS-CoV–seropositive camels, we tested archived camel serum samples originating in Egypt, Sudan, and Somalia, accumulated during the past 30 years, for MERS-CoV antibodies.
Dr Müller is staff scientist at the Institute of Virology, University of Bonn Medical Centre. His current research is dedicated to developing serologic detection methods for emerging viruses and in-depth molecular studies focusing on virus–host interactions.
We thank Stephan Kallies, Monika Eschbach-Bludau, Sebastian Brünink, Tobias Bleicker, and Andrea Sieberg for excellent technical assistance. We are grateful to Tasnim Suliman for critical reading of the manuscript. We thank Fatuma M. Jama and all camel owners and herdsmen for their support during field work.
The work was funded by the European Commission (FP7-EMPERIE no. 223498, FP7-ANTIGONE no. 278976) and the German Research Foundation (DFG grant DR772/3-1 to C.D.). This work was supported by the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health. The Centrum of International Migration (CIM) supported A.L. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
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Suggested citation for this article: Müller MA, Corman VM, Jores J, Meyer B, Younan M, Liljander A, et al. MERS coronavirus neutralizing antibodies in camels, eastern Africa, 1983–1997. Emerg Infect Dis [Internet]. 2014 Dec [date cited]. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2012.141026
1These authors contributed equally to this article.