Muscat: Nasal and eye swab tests for camels in Oman found five out of 76 samples positive for Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and genetic sequencing showed that they were closely related to human viruses in the region, findings published by Eurosurveillance, a European peer-reviewed scientific journal, claimed.
This study was funded by the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna and was carried out in close cooperation with various ministries in the Sultanate.
The findings, reported in middle of this week by Eurosurveillance, add more evidence of zoonotic transmission and hint that dromedary camels could be the direct reservoirs.
The researchers also noted high viral loads in the swabs, building a case for respiratory transmission.
The group collected samples from 76 dromedary camels across Oman in December 2013. The animals were different ages, breeds, and belonged to both genders.
The investigators conducted two MERS-CoV reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) tests on the samples, and retested the ones that were positive. They used gene sequences from the positive samples to perform a phylogenetic analysis.
The five positive samples from the Omani camels were identical to each other and highly similar to those from camel samples from Qatar and Egypt.