Dr. Christian Drosten of the Institut fur Virologie at the Universitats Klinikum in Bonn, Germany, said the first complete viral load profile of a MERS-CoV infection involved a 73-year-old man from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, who was treated in Munich in March.
The study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, found the virus in the man's stool and urine, but at low levels that didn't suggest a high infection risk from those sources, the study said.
In 2003, patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome often had high viral loads and prolonged shedding of virus in stool, which led to the routine use of stool samples for diagnostic tests for SARS.
SARS spread quickly to dozens of countries in early 2003, resulting in more than 8,000 cases and about 800 deaths. MERS-CoV is not SARS, but is a relative, and for more than year, the infection was described as SARS-like, before it was recently named Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus.
The Abu Dhabi man was transferred to Klinikum Schwabing on March 19, on day 11 of illness. He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2008, and had received several lines of treatment. The patient died on day 18, due to septic shock -- organ failure.
MERS-CoV was detected in two samples of bronchoalveolar -- lung -- fluid. Viral loads were highest in samples from the lower respiratory tract, while maximum virus concentration in urine samples was on day 13; but the virus was not present in the urine after renal failure on day 14.
Stool samples obtained on days 12 and 16 contained the virus were close to the lowest detection limit. No virus was detected in blood, the study said.