Publications by authors named "Abdulrahman A Alzahrani"

4 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Cross-sectional prevalence study of MERS-CoV in local and imported dromedary camels in Saudi Arabia, 2016-2018.

PLoS One 2020 26;15(5):e0232790. Epub 2020 May 26.

King Fahd Medical Research Center, Special Infectious Agents Unit, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is an endemic virus in dromedaries. Annually, Saudi Arabia imports thousands of camels from the Horn of Africa, yet the epidemiology of MERS-CoV in these animals is largely unknown. Here, MERS-CoV prevalence was compared in imported African camels and their local counterparts. A total of 1399 paired sera and nasal swabs were collected from camels between 2016 and 2018. Imported animals from Sudan (n = 829) and Djibouti (n = 328) were sampled on incoming ships at Jeddah Islamic seaport before unloading, and local camels were sampled from Jeddah (n = 242). Samples were screened for neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) and MERS-CoV viral RNA. The overall seroprevalence was 92.7% and RNA detection rate was 17.2%. Imported camels had higher seroprevalence compared to resident herds (93.8% vs 87.6%, p <0.01) in contrast to RNA detection (13.3% vs 35.5%, p <0.0001). Seroprevalence significantly increased with age (p<0.0001) and viral RNA detection rate was ~2-folds higher in camels <2-year-old compared to older animals. RNA detection was higher in males verses females (24.3% vs 12.6%, p<0.0001) but seroprevalence was similar. Concurrent positivity for viral RNA and nAbs was found in >87% of the RNA positive animals, increased with age and was sex-dependent. Importantly, reduced viral RNA load was positively correlated with nAb titers. Our data confirm the widespread of MERS-CoV in imported and domestic camels in Saudi Arabia and highlight the need for continuous active surveillance and better prevention measures. Further studies are also warranted to understand camels correlates of protection for proper vaccine development.
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June 2020

Seroprevalence of Dromedary Camel HEV in Domestic and Imported Camels from Saudi Arabia.

Viruses 2020 05 18;12(5). Epub 2020 May 18.

Special Infectious Agents Unit, King Fahd Medical Research Center, King Abdulaziz University, P.O. Box 80216, Jeddah 21589, Saudi Arabia.

Hepatitis E Virus (HEV) imposes a major health concern in areas with very poor sanitation in Africa and Asia. The pathogen is transmitted mainly through ingesting contaminated water or food, coming into contact with affected people, and blood transfusions. Very few reports including old reports are available on the prevalence of HEV in Saudi Arabia in humans and no reports exist on HEV prevalence in camels. Dromedary camel trade and farming are increasing in Saudi Arabia with importation occurring unidirectionally from Africa to Saudi Arabia. DcHEV transmission to humans has been reported in one case from the United Arab Emeritus (UAE). This instigated us to perform this investigation of the seroprevalence of HEV in imported and domestic camels in Saudi Arabia. Serum samples were collected from imported and domestic camels. DcHEV-Abs were detected in collected sera using ELISA. The prevalence of DcHEV in the collected samples was 23.1% with slightly lower prevalence in imported camels than domestic camels (22.4% vs. 25.4%, value = 0.3). Gender was significantly associated with the prevalence of HEV in the collected camels ( value = 0.015) where males (31.6%) were more infected than females (13.4%). This study is the first study to investigate the prevalence of HEV in dromedary camels from Saudi Arabia. The high seroprevalence of DcHEV in dromedaries might indicate their role as a zoonotic reservoir for viral infection to humans. Future HEV seroprevalence studies in humans are needed to investigate the role of DcHEV in the Saudi human population.
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May 2020

Enzootic patterns of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus in imported African and local Arabian dromedary camels: a prospective genomic study.

Lancet Planet Health 2019 12 16;3(12):e521-e528. Epub 2019 Dec 16.

Special Infectious Agent Unit, King Fahd Medical Research Center, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Department of Medical Laboratory Technology, Faculty of Applied Medical Sciences, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Electronic address:

Background: The Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a lethal zoonotic pathogen endemic to the Arabian Peninsula. Dromedary camels are a likely source of infection and the virus probably originated in Africa. We studied the genetic diversity, geographical structure, infection prevalence, and age-associated prevalence among camels at the largest entry port of camels from Africa into the Arabian Peninsula.

Methods: In this prospective genomic study, we took nasal samples from camels imported from Sudan and Djibouti into the Port of Jeddah in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, over an almost 2-year period and local Arabian camels over 2 months in the year after surveillance of the port. We determined the prevalence of MERS-CoV infection, age-associated patterns of infection, and undertook phylogeographical and migration analyses to determine intercountry virus transmission after local lineage establishment. We compared all virological characteristics between the local and imported cohorts. We compared major gene deletions between African and Arabian strains of the virus. Reproductive numbers were inferred with Bayesian birth death skyline analyses.

Findings: Between Aug 10, 2016, and May 3, 2018, we collected samples from 1196 imported camels, of which 868 originated from Sudan and 328 from Djibouti, and between May 1, and June 25, 2018, we collected samples from 472 local camels, of which 189 were from Riyadh and 283 were from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Virus prevalence was higher in local camels than in imported camels (224 [47·5%] of 472 vs 157 [13·1%] of 1196; p<0·0001). Infection prevalence peaked among camels older than 1 year and aged up to 2 years in both groups, with 255 (66·9%) of 381 positive cases in this age group. Although the overall geographical distribution of the virus corresponded with the phylogenetic tree topology, some virus exchange was observed between countries corresponding with trade routes in the region. East and west African strains of the virus appear to be geographically separated, with an origin of west African strains in east Africa. African strains of the virus were not re-sampled in Saudi Arabia despite sampling approximately 1 year after importation from Africa. All local Arabian samples contained strains of the virus that belong to a novel recombinant clade (NRC) first detected in 2014 in Saudi Arabia. Reproduction number estimates informed by the sequences suggest sustained endemicity of NRC, with a mean R of 1·16.

Interpretation: Despite frequent imports of MERS-CoV with camels from Africa, African lineages of MERS-CoV do not establish themselves in Saudi Arabia. Arabian strains of the virus should be tested for changes in virulence and transmissibility.

Funding: German Ministry of Research and Education, EU Horizon 2020, and Emerging Diseases Clinical Trials Partnership.
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December 2019

Molecular Evidence of Influenza A Virus Circulation in African Dromedary Camels Imported to Saudi Arabia, 2017-2018.

Open Forum Infect Dis 2019 Oct 30;6(10):ofz370. Epub 2019 Sep 30.

Vaccines and Immunotherapy Unit, King Fahd Medical Research Center, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Little is known about influenza A viruses in dromedaries. Here, we detected influenza A viral RNA in 11 specimens (1.7 %) out of 665 nasal swabs collected from dromedaries between 2017 and 2018 in Saudi Arabia. Positive samples were detected only in imported camels from Sudan and Djibouti but not local ones. Partial genome sequencing indicates a close relationship to 2009-2019 human/swine influenza A H1N1 isolates from different countries, suggesting possible interspecies transmission. Taken together, dromedaries could represent a potentially unrecognized permissive host for these viruses, highlighting the need for enhanced surveillance in animals to aid implementation of one-health strategies.
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October 2019