The Phylogeography of MERS-CoV in Hospital Outbreak-Associated Cases Compared to Sporadic Cases in Saudi Arabia.Viruses. 2020 05 14; 12(5)V
This study compared the phylogeography of MERS-CoV between hospital outbreak-associated cases and sporadic cases in Saudi Arabia. We collected complete genome sequences from human samples in Saudi Arabia and data on the multiple risk factors of human MERS-CoV in Saudi Arabia reported from 2012 to 2018. By matching each sequence to human cases, we identified isolates as hospital outbreak-associated cases or sporadic cases. We used Bayesian phylogenetic methods including temporal, discrete trait analysis and phylogeography to uncover transmission routes of MERS-CoV isolates between hospital outbreaks and sporadic cases. Of the 120 sequences collected between 19 June 2012 and 23 January 2017, there were 64 isolates from hospital outbreak-associated cases and 56 from sporadic cases. Overall, MERS-CoV is fast evolving at 7.43 × 10[-4] substitutions per site per year. Isolates from hospital outbreaks showed unusually fast evolutionary speed in a shorter time-frame than sporadic cases. Multiple introductions of different MERS-CoV strains occurred in three separate hospital outbreaks. MERS-CoV appears to be mutating in humans. The impact of mutations on viruses transmissibility in humans is unknown.