Lack of serological evidence of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus infection in virus exposed camel abattoir workers in Nigeria, 2015-2016 Ray TY So1, Ranawaka APM Perera1, Jamiu O Oladipo1,2, Daniel KW Chu1, Sulyman A Kuranga2, Keith KH Chan1, Samuel Mo Sheung Cheng1, Leo LM Poon1, Richard J Webby3, Malik Peiris1* 1School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China; 2Faculty of Clinical Sciences, Department of Surgery, Old Jebba Road, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria; 3Department of Infectious Diseases, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN 38105-3678, USA
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) continues to be a zoonotic threat of global public health concern and dromedary camels are the source of zoonotic infection. Although MERS-CoV is enzoonotic in dromedaries in Africa as well as the Middle-East, zoonotic disease has not been reported in Africa. We first confirmed a minimum outbreak period of 6 weeks in dromedary camels (n = 2529) slaughtered at an abattoir in Kano, Nigeria from October 2015 - February 2016, with a peak weekly rate of 8.4% in early February 2016. We subsequently investigated 261 humans in that abattoir with repeated occupational exposure to MERS-CoV infected camels. In spite many of whom also reported drinking fresh camel milk and urine and use of camel urine for medicinal purposes, none of them had evidence of neutralizing antibody to MERS-CoV by S1-ELISA or pseudo-particle neutralization tests. There is a need for more studies to investigate whether or not zoonotic transmission of MERS-CoV does take place in Africa.