We tested, using a low starting dilution, sequential serum samples from dromedary camels, sheep and horses collected in Dubai from February/April to October of 2005 and from dromedary camels for export/import testing between Canada and USA in 2000-2001. Using a standard Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) neutralization test, serial sera from three sheep and three horses were all negative while sera from 9 of 11 dromedary camels from Dubai were positive for antibodies supported by similar results in a MERS-CoV recombinant partial spike protein antibody ELISA. The two negative Dubai camels were both dromedary calves and remained negative over the 5 months studied. The six dromedary samples from USA and Canada were negative in both tests. These results support the recent findings that infection with MERS-CoV or a closely related virus is not a new occurrence in camels in the Middle East. Therefore, interactions of MERS-CoV at the human-animal interface may have been ongoing for several, perhaps many, years and by inference, a widespread pandemic may be less likely unless significant evolution of the virus allow accelerated infection and spread potential in the human population.
Keywords: Middle East; Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus; antibodies; camels; coronavirus; dromedaries.
© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada 2014 Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food and Minister of Health.