The ongoing Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreaks pose a worldwide public health threat. Blocking MERS-CoV zoonotic transmission from dromedary camels, the animal reservoir, could potentially reduce the number of primary human cases. Here we report MERS-CoV transmission from experimentally infected llamas to naïve animals. Directly inoculated llamas shed virus for at least 6 days and could infect all in-contact naïve animals 4-5 days after exposure. With the aim to block virus transmission, we examined the efficacy of a recombinant spike S1-protein vaccine. In contrast to naïve animals, in-contact vaccinated llamas did not shed infectious virus upon exposure to directly inoculated llamas, consistent with the induction of strong virus neutralizing antibody responses. Our data provide further evidence that vaccination of the reservoir host may impede MERS-CoV zoonotic transmission to humans.

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Emerging Microbes and Infections
Department of Virology

Rodon, J. (Jordi), Okba, N., Te, N. (Nigeer), van Dieren, B. (Brenda), Bosch, B. J., Bensaid, A. (Albert), … Vergara-Alert, J. (Júlia). (2019). Blocking transmission of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in llamas by vaccination with a recombinant spike protein. Emerging Microbes and Infections, 8(1), 1593–1603. doi:10.1080/22221751.2019.1685912