Skip Navigation

MERS

Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

MERS Information

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is viral respiratory illness first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. 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 percent of people confirmed to have MERS-CoV infection have died.

So far, all the cases have been linked to countries in and near 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.

On May 2, 2014, the first U.S. imported case of MERS was confirmed in a traveler from Saudi Arabia to the U.S. On May 11, 2014, a second U.S. imported case of MERS was confirmed in a traveler also from Saudi Arabia. The two U.S. cases are not linked. 

People at increased risk of MERS include: 

  • Recent travelers from the Arabian Peninsula
  • Close contacts of an ill traveler from the Arabian Peninsula
  • Close contacts of a confirmed case of MERS
  • Health care personnel not using recommended infection control precautions
  • People with exposure to camels