MERS-CoV PCR

Description: 
Qualitative real-time PCR used to diagnose Middle-East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection. Lower respiratory tract samples are the preferred specimen eg Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) or non-directed Bronchoalveolar Lavage (NBAL), however nose, throat or nose and throat swabs (NTS) can also be tested. Currently the assay has not been validated on sputum samples. Currently this assay is only available to patients attending GSTT, including the Evelina Children's Hospital Mon to Fri and the turnaround time is 2 working days.
Clinical details: 
MERS-CoV is a zoonotic coronavirus endemic in camels in parts of the middle east and is a hazard group 3 (HG3) organisim. It causes sporadic outbreaks with human to human transmission, particularly in health care settings. Overall mortality is 35%, increasing with age. Typical MERS-CoV symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Pneumonia is common, but not always present. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea, have also been reported. Public Health England (PHE) has extensive guidance on the management and investigation of possible cases. At GSTT all cases meeting the current PHE possible case definition should be discussed with the duty virology consultant. Patients retrieved from Health care settings in countries where MERS-CoV is endemic should be tested prior to transfer and again on arrival at GSTT.
Reference range: 

Not applicable

Synonyms or keywords: 
MERS-CoV, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, Middle East Coronavirus, Pneumonia, Camel, Travel
Units: 
Qualitative Test- Detected/Not detected
Sample type and Volume required: 
Lower respiratory tract samples are the preferred specimen eg Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) or non-directed Bronchoalveolar Lavage (NBAL) to be collected in a self-sealed valved container with no additives. Nose, throat or nose and throat swabs (NTS) in Universal Transport Medium (UTM) can also be tested. Currently the assay has not been validated on sputum samples. If a NBL/BAL is not available, but a sputum sample is, this will be forwarded to the referral laboratory at PHE Birmingham.
Call in advance: 
Public Health England (PHE) has extensive guidance on the management and investigation of possible cases. At GSTT all cases meeting the current PHE possible case definition should be discussed with the duty Virology consultant. Patients retrieved from Health care settings in countries where MERS-CoV is endemic should be tested prior to transfer and again on arrival at GSTT.
Turnaround time: 
2 working days
Storage and transport: 
Since MERS-CoV is a HG3 organisim transport of samples from the ward to the laboratory must follow the Management of HG4 and similar pathogens of high consequence pathway. The microbiology BMS bleep holder (bleep 1802) should be notified a soon as the Virology consultant determines MERS-CoV testing is appropriate. Place labelled sample in a sealed bag, then into a second sample bag (double bagged) and hand deliver promptly to CSR. Do NOT send samples via the air chute system. CSR will place the samples in the yellow internal transport box in CSR pre-sort and immediately call the Microbiology BMS bleep holder (bleep 1802) who will pick up the samples and take them to the CL3 laboratory.
Contacts:
Infection Sciences Department at St Thomas' Hospital
020 7188 8008
St Thomas' Hospital
North Wing - 5th Floor
Westminster Bridge Road
London SE1 7EH
Core opening hours: Monday-Friday 0900-1730


For clinical advice or interpretation of results, please contact the laboratory in the first instance.

Print as a PDF

Last updated: 12/12/2019