Kinetics and pattern of viral excretion in biological specimens of two MERS-CoV cases

J Clin Virol. 2014 Oct;61(2):275-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2014.07.002. Epub 2014 Jul 12.


Background: Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is an emerging coronavirus involved in severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and rapid renal failure. Hospital outbreak and nosocomial transmission were reported, however, several issues remain on the viral excretion course.

Objectives: Describe the kinetics and pattern of viral excretion in two infected patients.

Study design: After the initial diagnosis, blood, urine, rectal and respiratory samples were collected regularly, aliquoted and stored at -80°C. Real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction assay targeted the UpE and Orf1a regions of the MERS-CoV genome.

Results: In patient 1, who died of refractory ARDS and renal failure, MERS-CoV RNA was detected in pharyngeal and tracheal swabs, as well blood samples and urine samples until the 30th day. Rectal swabs were negative. Patient 2 also developed multiple-organ failure, but survived, with persisting renal insufficiency (creatinine clearance at 30 mL/min) and persistent interstitial syndrome albeit weaned off mechanical ventilation and no longer requiring oxygen. Tracheal aspirations were positive until the 33rd day, while nasopharyngeal swabs were negative. All other biological samples were negative.

Discussion: Lower respiratory tract excretion of MERS-CoV could be observed for more than one month. The most severely ill patient presented an expression of the virus in blood and urine, consistent with a type-1 interferon mediated immunological response impaired in patient 1, but developed by patient 2. These results suggest that infection control precautions must be adequately evaluated in clinical wards and laboratories exposed to MERS-CoV.

Keywords: Coronavirus; Kinetic; MERS-CoV; RNA detection; Respiratory tract infection.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Blood / virology
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus / isolation & purification*
  • RNA, Viral / analysis
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Rectum / virology
  • Respiratory System / virology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Time Factors
  • Urine / virology
  • Virus Shedding*


  • RNA, Viral