Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) still causes outbreaks despite public awareness and implementation of health care measures, such as rapid viral diagnosis and patient quarantine. Here we describe the current epidemiological picture of MERS-CoV, focusing on humans and animals affected by this virus and propose specific intervention strategies that would be appropriate to control MERS-CoV. One-third of MERS-CoV patients develop severe lower respiratory tract infection and succumb to a fatal outcome; these patients would require effective therapeutic antiviral therapy. Because of the lack of such intervention strategies, supportive care is the best that can be offered at the moment. Limiting viral spread from symptomatic human cases to health care workers and family members, on the other hand, could be achieved through prophylactic administration of MERS-CoV neutralizing antibodies and vaccines. To ultimately prevent spread of the virus into the human population, however, vaccination of dromedary camels – currently the only confirmed animal host for MERS-CoV – may be the best option to achieve a sustained drop in human MERS cases in time. In the end, a One Health approach combining all these different efforts is needed to tackle this zoonotic outbreak.
The pandemic potential of zoonotic pathogens lies in their ability to become efficiently transmissible amongst humans. Here, we focus on contact-transmitted pathogens and discuss the factors, at the pathogen, host and environmental levels that promote or hinder their human-to-human transmissibility via the following modes of contact transmission: skin contact, sexual contact, respiratory contact and multiple route contact. Factors common to several modes of transmission were immune evasion, high viral load, low infectious dose, crowding, promiscuity, and co-infections; other factors were specific for a pathogen or mode of contact transmission. The identification of such factors will lead to a better understanding of the requirements for human-to-human spread of pathogens, as well as improving risk assessment of newly emerging pathogens.
Rift Valley fever (RVF) is an emerging zoonosis of major public health concern in Africa and Arabia. Previous outbreaks attributed camelids a significant role in the epidemiology of Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV), making them an important target species for vaccination. Using three alpacas as model-organisms for dromedary camels, the safety, immunogenicity and pathogenicity of the MP-12 vaccine were evaluated inthis study. To compare both acute and subacute effects, animals were euthanized at 3 and 31days post infection (dpi). Clinical monitoring, analysis of liver enzymes and hematological parameters demonstrated the tolerability of the vaccine, as no significant adverse effects were observed. Comprehensive analysis of serological parameters illustrated the immunogenicity of the vaccine, eliciting high neutralizing antibody titers and antibodies targeting different viral antigens. RVFV was detected in serum and liver of the alpaca euthanized 3dpi, whereas no viruswas detectable at 31dpi. Viral replication was confirmed by detection of various RVFV-antigens in hepatocytes by immunohistochemistry and the presence of mild multifocal necrotizing hepatitis. In conclusion, results indicate that MP-12 is a promising vaccine candidate but still has a residual pathogenicity, which requires further investigation.