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Global patterns of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) prevalence and seroprevalence in camels: A systematic review and meta-analysis

journal contribution
submitted on 2024-01-30, 10:25 and posted on 2024-01-30, 10:26 authored by Md. Mazharul Islam, Hamida Khanom, Elmoubashar Farag, Zarin Tasnim Mim, Pragalathan Naidoo, Zilungile Lynette Mkhize-Kwitshana, Markos Tibbo, Ariful Islam, Ricardo J. Soares Magalhaes, Mohammad Mahmudul Hassan

The Middle East respiratory syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is one of the human coronaviruses that causes severe respiratory infection. Bats are considered to be the natural reservoir, where dromedary camels (DC) are the intermediate hosts of the virus. The current study was undertaken to provide an update on global distribution of the virus in camels, and to investigate the pooled prevalence and camel-associated risk factors of infection. After registration of the review protocol in the Open Science Framework, data searches were conducted on 18 April 2023 through Embase, PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science. Considering only natural MERS-CoV infection in camels, 94 articles were selected for data curation through blind screening by two authors. Meta-analysis was conducted to estimate the pooled prevalence and to evaluate camel-associated risk factors. Finally, the results were presented in forest plots. The reviewed articles tested 34 countries, of which camels of 24 countries were seropositive and in 15 countries they were positive by molecular method. Viral RNA was detected in DC. Non-DC, such as bactrian camels, alpaca, llama, and hybrid camels were only seropositive. The global estimated pooled seroprevalence and viral RNA prevalence in DC were 77.53% and 23.63%, respectively, with the highest prevalence in West Asia (86.04% and 32.37% respectively). In addition, 41.08% of non-DC were seropositive. The estimated pooled prevalence of MERS-CoV RNA significantly varied by sample types with the highest in oral (45.01%) and lowest in rectal (8.42%) samples; the estimated pooled prevalence in nasal (23.10%) and milk (21.21%) samples were comparable. The estimated pooled seroprevalence in <2 years, 2–5 years, and > 5 years age groups were 56.32%, 75.31%, and 86.31%, respectively, while viral RNA prevalence was 33.40%, 15.87%, and 13.74%, respectively. Seroprevalence and viral RNA prevalence were generally higher in females (75.28% and 19.70%, respectively) than in males (69.53% and 18.99%, respectively). Local camels had lower estimated pooled seroprevalence (63.34%) and viral RNA prevalence (17.78%) than those of imported camels (89.17% and 29.41%, respectively). The estimated pooled seroprevalence was higher in camels of free-herds (71.70%) than confined herds (47.77%). Furthermore, estimated pooled seroprevalence was higher in samples from livestock markets, followed by abattoirs, quarantine, and farms but viral RNA prevalence was the highest in samples from abattoirs, followed by livestock markets, quarantine, and farms. Risk factors, such as sample type, young age, female sex, imported camels, and camel management must be considered to control and prevent the spread and emergence of MERS-CoV.

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Published in: One Health
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Open Access funding provided by the Qatar National Library.



  • English



Publication Year

  • 2023

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This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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  • Ministry of Municipality - State of Qatar
  • Ministry of Public Health - State of Qatar

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