Also, check out the TWiV webcast by Prof Lipkin.
So, I guess to carry on from last night's post....I stand surprised.
Not even next-generation sequencing could pull any more sequence from the MERS-CoV-positive T.perforatus bat samples that thawed after the dry shipper (not a box+dry ice as I previously guessed, but a vacuum sealed vessel previously brought to -150°C then all free liquid nitrogen removed for transport; shipped by FedEx) was opened and the cold chain interrupted after arriving from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).
According to Prof Lipkin, in an email exchange we had last night, the group also tried a couple of runs of next-gen sequencing.
So why was only 1 October 2012 sample positive for the MERS-CoV strain? Prof Lipkin concludes that..
At the time of receiving the October samples (no MERS-CoV was found in the April samples), no viral gene/gene fragment/genome cloning had been done in Prof Lipkin's lab. A common potential source of PCR contamination ruled out.
How does your group know that this 182 basepair nucleotide sequence was not a contaminant from somewhere else?
Antibodies were not sought in the massive 10μl of bat blood obtained per bat (the bats were released after sampling). But do these findings exclude the possibility that other bats, like those from genus Pipistrellus and Neoromicia (both from the family Vespertilionidae), or genus Nycteris, family Nycteridae, may be a host for MERS-CoV? At a World Health Organisation meeting in Cairo, Prof Lipkin told the the audience that..
What's next in the search for animals hosting this virus and in trying to confirm what the group has just reported? There will also be a new European collaborative report (UK and KSA) coming out very soon that has new human MERS-CoV sequences suggesting multiple human introductions (animal to human?) with much more sequence variation in the MERS-CoV genome than we have seen thus far. This will further support the conclusion that the T.perforatus CoV is one and the same virus as that which infects humans.
Thank you to Prof Lipkin. This gives a some valuable insight into his careful efforts to deduce what animals may host a MERS-CoV strain,m as the first step in tracking how humans in the KSA are getting infected. It also highlights that finding even a basic piece of information requires many steps, lots of people, much effort and some luck. But if virus hunting was easy, everyone would do it right?
Some slight editing for brevity, and to account for mobile phone thumbs, was undertaken by VDU.