Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It is caused by a coronavirus called MERS-CoV. Most people who have been confirmed to have MERS-CoV infection developed severe acute respiratory illness. They had fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About 30% of these people died. So far, all the cases have been linked to countries in the Arabian Peninsula.* This virus has spread from ill people to others through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person. However, there is no evidence of sustained spreading in community settings.
MERS-CoV is an emerging disease in the United States. The situation in the U.S. represents a very low risk to the general public in this country. Only two patients in the U.S. have ever tested positive for MERS-CoV infection, both in May 2014. Both cases were among healthcare providers who lived and worked in Saudi Arabia. Both traveled to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia, where they are believed to have been infected. Both were hospitalized in the U.S. and later discharged after fully recovering.
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. To date, all cases have been linked to a single chain of transmission and are associated with health care facilities.
This website will be updated as new information becomes available.
*Countries considered in the Arabian Peninsula and neighboring region include: Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestinian territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Yemen.
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