Countrywide Survey for MERS-Coronavirus Antibodies in Dromedaries and Humans in Pakistan
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a zoonotic pathogen capable of causing severe respiratory disease in humans. Although dromedary camels are considered as a major reservoir host, the MERS-CoV infection dynamics in camels are not fully understood. Through surveillance in Pakistan, nasal (n = 776) and serum (n = 1050) samples were collected from camels between November 2015 and February 2018. Samples were collected from animal markets, free-roaming herds and abattoirs. An in-house ELISA was developed to detect IgG against MERS-CoV. A total of 794 camels were found seropositive for MERS-CoV. Prevalence increased with the age and the highest seroprevalence was recorded in camels aged > 10 years (81.37%) followed by those aged 3.1–10 years (78.65%) and ≤ 3 years (58.19%). Higher prevalence was observed in female (78.13%) as compared to male (70.70%). Of the camel nasal swabs, 22 were found to be positive by RT-qPCR though with high Ct values. Moreover, 2,409 human serum samples were also collected from four provinces of Pakistan during 2016–2017. Among the sampled population, 840 humans were camel herders. Although we found a high rate of MERS-CoV antibody positive dromedaries (75.62%) in Pakistan, no neutralizing antibodies were detected in humans with and without contact to camels.
KeywordsMiddle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) Camel Human Pakistan
We thank the Livestock and Dairy Development Department (L&DD), Punjab, Pakistan. This work was not possible without the personal interests of Secretary L&DD. This study was supported by the International Cooperation on Key Technologies of Biosafety along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (153B42KYSB20170004) and by the External Cooperation Program of CAS (153211KYSB20160001). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
AZ, MS, MAA, JC, MSS and VMC wrote the manuscript. AZ, MS. MAA, ARS, SK, ZT, HS, UT, MHT, MAQ, MKM, BAK, IDU, IK and MSS participated in the sampling. AZ, JC, BJH, BL, WZ, YL, YZ, CW and XLY performed the experiments. AZ, MS, ARS, ZT, BJH, BL, WZ, YL, BY and ZLS analysed the data. ZLS and MS designed and supervised the overall study.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interests
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Animal and Human Rights Statement
This study was approved by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Institutional Review Board (China) and by the Ethical Review Committee of Government College University Faisalabad (Pakistan). All institutional and national guidelines for the care and use of laboratory animals were followed and informed oral consent was obtained from humans for which identifying information is included in this article.
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