Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) cases continue to be reported, predominantly in Saudi Arabia and occasionally other countries. Although dromedaries are the main reservoir, other animal species might be susceptible to MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection and potentially serve as reservoirs. To determine whether other animals are potential reservoirs, we inoculated MERS-CoV into llamas, pigs, sheep, and horses and collected nasal and rectal swab samples at various times. The presence of MERS-CoV in the nose of pigs and llamas was confirmed by PCR, titration of infectious virus, immunohistochemistry, and in situ hybridization; seroconversion was detected in animals of both species. Conversely, in sheep and horses, virus-specific antibodies did not develop and no evidence of viral replication in the upper respiratory tract was found. These results prove the susceptibility of llamas and pigs to MERS-CoV infection. Thus, the possibility of MERS-CoV circulation in animals other than dromedaries, such as llamas and pigs, is not negligible.

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Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2302.161239, hdl.handle.net/1765/95637
Journal Emerging Infectious Diseases (Print)
Vergara-Alert, J. (Júlia), van den Brand, J.M.A, Widagdo, W, Muñoz, M. (Marta), Raj, V.S, Schipper, D, … Segalés, J. (2017). Livestock susceptibility to infection with middle east respiratory syndrome coronavirus. Emerging Infectious Diseases (Print), 23(2), 232–240. doi:10.3201/eid2302.161239