October 27, 2013
Gierer and colleagues from the German primate center and the University of Dammam in Saudi Arabia, have presented the findings of their study of antibodies to the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
The publication, in Emerging Infectious Diseases (ahead of print - you can find it here, at least until it's other link here starts working), measured the antibodies capable of blocking infection by MERS-CoV, called "neutralising antibodies" with a method they have described before. The assay was not validated with multiple MERS-CoV-positive patient sera, but appeared specific in the testing completed.
Patient samples from the area served by King Fahd Hospital were obtained from:
- Children (158 sera, 77 female, mean age 12 months) admitted to hospital with lower respiratory tract infections during 12-months form May 2010.
- Adult (110 plasma samples, all males, mean age 28-years, upper limit of 52-years) blood donors
No sera or plasma had neutralising MERS-CoV antibodies.
The authors conclude that <2.3% of children and <3.3% pod adults were seropositive though, because that accounts for the upper limit of the confidence intervals. They also note that their sampling of hospitalized children couldhave missed an antibody response (because it takes time to develop) if they had only just been admitted to hospital for MERS-CoV.