No molecular evidence of MERS-CoV circulation in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia between 2010–2012: a single-center retrospective study
Introduction: Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is an emerging zoonotic viral pathogen and a serious public health concern. The virus was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and continues to be endemic in the region. Most of the initial MERS-CoV cases in 2012 and early 2013 were sporadic, and it remains unclear whether MERS-CoV was circulating before 2012 or not. Therefore, we tried here to find any molecular evidence of MERS-CoV circulation in humans before or during 2012 in the city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Methodology: We examined 349 archived respiratory samples collected between January 2010 and December 2012 from patients with acute respiratory illnesses from the city of Jeddah in Western Saudi Arabia. All samples were screened for MERS-CoV by real-time RT-PCR targeting the upstream E-gene (UpE) and the open reading frame 1 a (ORF1a).
Results: All tested samples which were originally found negative for influenza A H1N1 virus were also found to be negative for MERS-CoV.
Conclusions: These results suggest that circulation of MERS-CoV was uncommon among patients with acute respiratory symptoms in Western Saudi Arabia between 2010 and 2012.
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