Ian Mackay has penned a pair of blogs this morning, one dealing with yesterday’s PLOS One Seroprevalence study on MERS in Kenyan camels (See my piece PLoS One: MERS Seroprevalence In Camels – Kenya), and the other on the limits of culturing live viruses.
With two recent high-profile cases of viral relapse – one from Ebola and one from MERS – the following brief look at the interpretation of negative viral culturing results is particularly timely.
Lately, for both Ebola virus and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, there have been instances where I've been reminded that one must not rely on the growth of an infectious virus from a sample to be sure that there is virus in that sample.
A second, much more detailed blog, looks at the findings of yesterday’s seroprevalence study, along with earlier studies in the same region.
Two studies have now found antibodies from Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)-like coronaviruses in dromedary camels (DCs). The "like" bit reflects that unless we have some sequence, we can't say for certain that the virus that infected those camels in the past, causing them to respond with these antibodies, was a MERS-CoV variant. The virus(es) may have been a different camel CoV that just so happens to share some antigens and is detected by MERS-CoV-"specific" antibody detection tests. The old story of "we don't know what we don't know" can perhaps be extended here to "we can't validate a test against viruses we haven't found yet". Or that may just be too nerdy.
Anyhoo, we have two papers to look at here.