Advances in Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Research Article
Adv. Anim. Vet. Sci. 9(11): 1776-1780
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Samy Kasem1,2, Ali Al-Doweriej1, Ibrahim Qasim1, Ali Nasser Alhufuf1, Nader Alharbi1, Sanad Alharbi1, Ahmed Youssef1,3*

1Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, 65 King Abdulaziz Road, Riyadh, 11195, Kingdom Saudi Arabia; 2Department of Virology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Kafrelsheikh University, Kafrelsheikh, El-Geish Street, 33516, Egypt; 3Department of Animal Hygiene and Zoonoses, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Suez Canal University, Ismailia, Egypt.

Abstract | The Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) caused by Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is an emerged zoonotic infectious disease of increasing public health significance. Dromedary camels are the main MERS-CoV reservoirs and maintenance hosts, but the transmission mechanism to humans is still unknown. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of MERS-CoV among camel herds that were probable sources of zoonotic infection to human cases in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), through three years (2017- 2019). Molecular examination of nasal swabs collected from 449 camels was performed for the detection of the MERS-CoV genome using quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). The analysis of the questionnaire revealed that out of 91 human cases of MERS, 51 (56%) of which were related to dromedaries and the rest had no relation to animals with a history of contact with camels or drinking raw milk or undercooked meat from camels. The percentage of human cases with suspected animal-acquired infections reached 100% in Bahaa, Gazan, Makkah, Jouf, and Tabuk regions. The MERS-CoV genome was detected in 74 dromedaries (16.5%) out of 449 camels examined by qRT-PCR. The positive cases of camels were distributed in eleven districts of Saudi Arabia. In conclusion, the detection of MERS-CoV genome among camel samples associated with confirmed MERS subjects suggested that the virus is prevalent in Saudi Arabia. This data supported the theory of zoonotic infections of MERS-CoV from camels.

Keywords | MERS-CoV, Dromedary camels, Zoonoses, Saudi Arabia