Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

In September 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the discovery of a novel coronavirus. This virus has been named the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

MERS-CoV is a serious respiratory disease with common symptoms in patients that include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. Most patients have had pneumonia. Some patients present with gastrointestinal illness prior to the onset of respiratory symptoms. About half of people infected with MERS-CoV have died. The virus has been shown to spread between people who are in close contact. It can also spread from infected patients to health care personnel. No travel warnings or restrictions have been issued related to MERS-CoV.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending surveillance and testing for individuals who have unexplained severe respiratory illness and a history of travel to countries in the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries. These countries include: Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemen.

Since May 2015, the Republic of Korea has been investigating an outbreak of MERS-CoV. It is the largest known outbreak of MERS-CoV outside the Arabian Peninsula. CDC has expanded surveillance and testing for people who have unexplained severe respiratory illness after being in a health care facility (as a patient, worker or visitor) in the Republic of Korea.

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Last Revised: February 14, 2020