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Illinois MERS Case Lab Confirmed By CDC Published Definition
Recombinomics Commentary 02:00
May 29, 2014

To conduct serology from MERS Co-V, we conducted three separate tests, ELISA, or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, IFA, or immunofluorescence assay, and a third more definitive test called the neutralizing antibody assay, which takes longer than the other two tests. Results from these tests are not black and white but require interpretation.
To maximize specificity, we defined MERS-CoV antibody positivity as subjects having correlated, positive laboratory results from the HKU5.2N screening ELISA as well as confirmed positive results by either the MERS-CoV immunofluorescence assay (IFA) or the MERS-CoV
microneutralization assay (MNT).

The above comments (in red) are from the CDC telebriefing claiming that the Illinois MERS case, who was antibody positive by two antibody test (ELISA and IFA), was really negative because of a subsequent microneutralization test.  The three test are cited above.

However, the CDC had just published a paper on the detection of MERS antibodies in the ICU outbreak in Jordan in 2012 entitled “Hospital-associated outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome
Coronavirus: A serologic, epidemiologic, and clinical description”.  That paper used the same three test, and as noted above (in blue) a positive case was defined as a patient who was positive on the ELISA test and then confirmed by the IFA test or the miconeutralization assay (MNT).

Thus, when the Illinois colleague of the Munster MERS case tested positive on the ELISA and IFA test, the CDC held a press briefing noting he was a lab confirmed positive.  Since the interaction between the two subjects was brief and contact was limited to two handshakes, the transmission by casual contact received significant press.

Today, the CDC tried to walk back the positive by claiming the negative neutralization test trumped the two prior positives (by ELISA and IFA) in contradiction of their own published definition of a lab confirmed case.
The clumsy attempt to create a new definition after the fact raises concerns that a large number of contacts were antibody positive by the ELISA and IFA tests.

After the telebriefing, Recombinomics called the CDC media with a list of questions regarding the testing of the various contacts of the confirmed cases in Indiana and Florida.  The CDC media refused (in writing) to answer any of the questions, raising serious transparency concerns.

The CDC should immediately release antibody testing data on all contacts of the two MERS confirmed cases in Indiana and Florida.

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