• The sample of choice for detecting Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus in asymptomatic dromedary camels using real-time reversetranscription polymerase chain reaction.

      Mohran, K A; Farag, E A B; Reusken, C B E; Raj, V S; Lamers, M M; Pas, S D; Voermans, J; Smits, S L; Alhajri, M M; Alhajri, F; et al. (2016-12)
      The newly identified Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which causes severe respiratory disease, particularly in people with comorbidities, requires further investigation. Studies in Qatar and elsewhere have provided evidence that dromedary camels are a reservoir for the virus, but the exact modes of transmission of MERS-CoV to humans remain unclear. In February 2014, an assessment was made of the suitability and sensitivity of different types of sample for the detection of MERSCoV by real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for three gene targets: UpE (upstream of the E gene), the N (nucleocapsid) gene and open reading frame (ORF) 1a. Fifty-three animals presented for slaughter were sampled. A high percentage of the sampled camels (79% [95% confidence interval 66.9-91.5%, standard error 0.0625]; 42 out of 53) were shown to be shedding MERS-CoV at the time of slaughter, yet all the animals were apparently healthy. Among the virus-positive animals, nasal swabs were most often positive (97.6%). Oral swabs were the second most frequently positive (35.7%), followed by rectal swabs (28.5%). In addition, the highest viral load, expressed as a cycle threshold (Ct) value of 11.27, was obtained from a nasal swab. These findings lead to the conclusion that nasal swabs are the candidate sample of choice for detecting MERS-CoV using RT-PCR technology in apparently healthy camels.