Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus in Bats, Saudi Arabia

Ziad A. Memish; Nischay Mishra, Kevin J. Olival; Shamsudeen F. Fagbo; Vishal Kapoor; Jonathan H. Epstein; Rafat AlHakeem; Abdulkareem Durosinloun; Mushabab Al Asmari; Ariful Islam; Amit Kapoor; Thomas Briese; Peter Daszak; Abdullah A. Al Rabeeah; W. Ian Lipkin

Disclosures

Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2013;19(11):1819-1823. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Abstract

The source of human infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus remains unknown. Molecular investigation indicated that bats in Saudi Arabia are infected with several alphacoronaviruses and betacoronaviruses. Virus from 1 bat showed 100% nucleotide identity to virus from the human index case-patient. Bats might play a role in human infection.

Introduction

Since Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) was described in September 2012, over 90 cases have been reported worldwide, 70 from Saudi Arabia. The incidence of infection with the causative agent, a betacoronavirus (MERS CoV),[1] has not been determined; however, the mortality rate among those who received clinical care is ≈65%.[2] Although instances of human-to-human transmission have been documented between case-patients and others in close contact (including hospital patients sharing rooms, family members, and medical personnel), the sources of infection for most patients remain unknown. Because of sequence similarities between β-CoVs identified in bats and those of MERS CoV isolated from humans, a bat reservoir has been posited.[3–5] Although neither detection of MERS CoV in bats nor contact of human MERS patients with bats have been reported, a role for bats in human infection cannot be excluded because contact can be indirect (mediated through another animal vector or fomites).

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