Human Infection With MERS Coronavirus After Exposure to Infected Camels

Saudi Arabia, 2013

Ziad A. Memish; Matthew Cotten; Benjamin Meyer; Simon J. Watson; Abdullah J. Alsahafi; Abdullah A. Al Rabeeah; Victor Max Corman; Andrea Sieberg; Hatem Q. Makhdoom; Abdullah Assiri; Malaki Al Masri; Souhaib Aldabbagh; Berend-Jan Bosch; Martin Beer; Marcel A. Müller; Paul Kellam; Christian Drosten


Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2014;20(6) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


We investigated a case of human infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) after exposure to infected camels. Analysis of the whole human-derived virus and 15% of the camel-derived virus sequence yielded identical nucleotide polymorphism signatures suggestive of cross-species transmission. Camels may act as a direct source of human MERS-CoV infection.


Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was identified in 2012 in a cell culture taken from a patient who died of pneumonia in Saudi Arabia.[1] Since 2012, at least 187 laboratory-confirmed human cases of MERS-CoV infection, most resulting in respiratory tract illness, have been reported to the World Health Organization; 97 of these cases were fatal. Known cases have been directly or indirectly linked to countries in the Arabian Peninsula.[2] Dromedary camels across and beyond the region show high rates of antibodies against MERS-CoV,[3–7] and viral RNA has been detected in camels in different countries.[8,9] In 1 instance, a camel and 2 humans caring for the camel were found to be infected with viruses that were highly similar but distinct within 4,395 nt of the camel-derived virus sequence, including several phylogenetically informative nucleotide changes.[10] To investigate possible camel–human virus transmission, we analyzed an infection with MERS-CoV in a man after he had contact with an infected camel.