Replication and shedding of MERS-CoV in upper respiratory tract of inoculated dromedary camels.Emerg Infect Dis. 2014 Dec; 20(12):1999-2005.EI
In 2012, a novel coronavirus associated with severe respiratory disease in humans emerged in the Middle East. Epidemiologic investigations identified dromedary camels as the likely source of zoonotic transmission of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Here we provide experimental support for camels as a reservoir for MERS-CoV. We inoculated 3 adult camels with a human isolate of MERS-CoV and a transient, primarily upper respiratory tract infection developed in each of the 3 animals. Clinical signs of the MERS-CoV infection were benign, but each of the camels shed large quantities of virus from the upper respiratory tract. We detected infectious virus in nasal secretions through 7 days postinoculation, and viral RNA up to 35 days postinoculation. The pattern of shedding and propensity for the upper respiratory tract infection in dromedary camels may help explain the lack of systemic illness among naturally infected camels and the means of efficient camel-to-camel and camel-to-human transmission.