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Novel MERS Emergence In Jeddah and Abu Dhabi
Recombinomics Commentary 12:30
April 28, 2014

Bonn Tree

The recent explosion in MERS cases in Jeddah, as well as a super-spreader in Abu Dhabi, has raised concerns, as indicated by the recent WHO press release.  Earlier reports had described the export of MERS from Jeddah leading to detection of cases in Jordan, Malaysia, and Greece.  More recently, two more exports have haven reported (for UAE and Jordan), raising the total to five.  Similarly, a super-spreader in Abu Dhabi had been linked to 22 confirmed cases, and that total was increased to 28.

The Jeddah outbreak has led to the early release of nearly complete sequences from three case in Jeddah (Jeddah_C7569, Jeddah_C7149, Jeddah_C7770) collected on April 3, 5, and 7, respectively (the early release of these important sequences is to be commended).  These sequences have been made available on Institute for Virology website, which also has the above phylogenetic tree, showing the close relationship between the three sequences, which were collected from two different hospitals, suggesting this sequence is common in Jeddah cases.  This similarity is further supported by partial sequencing the spike gene from 25 additional cases, which shows identify for all 28 cases at the protein level, signaling the emergence of a unique sub-clade in Jeddah.

Moreover, Andrew Rambaut has published a phylogenetic tree showing that camel_2 from Qatar (sequence generated by Bart Haagmans) is also closely related to the three Jeddah sequences, raising concerns that this sub-clade is also linked to the super spreader (45M) in Abu Dhabi, who was a paramedic who may have been infected by an earlier Abu Dhabi case (68M), a camel breeder (note Abu Dhabi is adjacent to the Qatar).

Release of the Qatar camel_2 sequence would be useful.

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