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Efficient replication and shedding of MERS CoV from the upper respiratory tract of experimentally infected dromedary camels

The Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS CoV) is a novel coronavirus first recognized in 2012 and is associated with severe respiratory disease in humans. Virus has been isolated from dromedary camels in endemic areas, and many camels also have neutralizing antibodies against the virus, suggesting that they are likely a reservoir host. In order to better understand the role of camels in virus transmission we experimentally infected 3 adult, male dromedary camels with a human isolate of MERS CoV. All animals developed a transient, upper respiratory tract infection associated with very minor clinical disease. Large quantities of infectious virus were isolated from nasal secretions from each animal through 7 days post-inoculation, and viral RNA was detected much longer. Although our study design was limited to 3 animals, these data indicate that MERS CoV readily infects camels, which shed large amounts of virus and likely can efficiently transmit virus to other camels and humans.

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Source: New Horizons in Translational Medicine

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