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Emerg Microbes Infect. 2019;8(1):103-108. doi: 10.1080/22221751.2018.1560235.

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus infection in non-camelid domestic mammals.

Author information

a Center of Scientific Excellence for Influenza Virus , National Research Centre , Giza , Egypt.
b Nature Link , Sfax , Tunisia.
c Institute of Medical Virology , Justus Liebig University Giessen , Giessen , Germany.
d St. Jude Children's Research Hospital , Memphis , TN , USA.
e School of Public Health , University of Hong Kong , Sandy Bay , Hong Kong.
f General Organizations of Veterinary Services , Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation , Giza , Egypt.
g Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations , Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases , Giza , Egypt.
h Human Link , Baabda , Lebanon.
i University of Texas Health Sciences Center , Houston , TX , USA.


Dromedary camels are natural host of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). However, there are limited studies of MERS-CoV infection of other domestic mammals exposed to infected dromedaries. We expanded our surveillance among camels in Egypt, Tunisia, and Senegal to include other domestic mammalian species in contact with infected camels. A total of 820 sera and 823 nasal swabs from cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys, buffaloes, mules, and horses were collected. Swabs were tested using RT-PCR and virus RNA-positive samples were genetically sequenced and phylogenetically analysed. Sera were screened using virus microneutralization tests and positive sera (where available) were confirmed using plaque reduction neutralization tests (PRNT). We detected 90% PRNT confirmed MERS-CoV antibody in 35 (55.6%) of 63 sera from sheep collected from Senegal, two sheep (1.8%) of 114 in Tunisia and a goat (0.9%) of 107 in Egypt, with titres ranging from 1:80 to ≥1:320. We detected MERS-CoV RNA in swabs from three sheep (1.2%) of 254 and five goats (4.1%) of 121 from Egypt and Senegal, as well as one cow (1.9%) of 53 and three donkeys (7.1%) of 42 from Egypt. Partial sequences of the RT-PCR amplicons confirmed specificity of the results. This study showed that domestic livestock in contact with MERS-CoV infected camels may be at risk of infection. We recommend expanding current MERS-CoV surveillance in animals to include other livestock in close contact with dromedary camels. The segregation of camels from other livestock in farms and live animal markets may need to be considered.


Egypt; MERS-CoV; Senegal; Tunisia; serology; sheep; surveillance

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