Viral Shedding and Antibody Response in 37 Patients with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Infection

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) causes isolated cases and outbreaks of severe respiratory disease.

This paper presents a study based on 37 adult patients infected with MERS-CoV. The aim was to assess the viral load (amount of virus) in the lower and upper respiratory tracts, blood, stool (faeces), and urine.

A minority of faeces (14.6%) and urine (2.4%) were found to contain measurable MERS-CoV RNA.

The authors discuss how this low frequency of MERS-CoV RNA in faeces is different to what was previously reported for SARFS-CoV. For SARS-CoV, the reported RNA prevalence in faecal samples was so high that testing of stool has been proposed as a reliable and sensitive way to routinely diagnose the disease. Furthermore, active replication in the gut with SARS-CoV virus isolation has been demonstrated.

In addition to the low frequency (14.6%) of detection and low RNA concentration of MERS-CoV in faecal samples, the authors reported no success in isolating infectious virus. Based on these data, they concluded that faecal excretion may not have played a relevant role for the spread of MERS-CoV, at least among the patients involved in this study.

REFERENCE:

Corman, V. M., Albarrak, A. M., Omrani, A. S., Albarrak, M. M., Farah, M. E., Almasri, M., Muth, D., Sieberg, A., Meyer, B., Assiri, A. M., Binger, T., Steinhagen, K., Lattwein, E., Al-Tawfiq, J., Müller, M. A., Drosten, C. and Memish, Z. A. (2015) Viral Shedding and Antibody Response in 37 Patients With Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Infection. Clin. Infect. Dis., 62(4), 477-483.

https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/civ951

Published by Stuart Khan

Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales

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