Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness. MERS is caused by a coronavirus called “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus” (MERS-CoV). The disease was first reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia. There are reports of three persons in the United States being infected with MERS-CoV. MERS-CoV has been shown to spread between people who are in close contact. Transmission from infected patients to healthcare personnel has also been observed. The source of MERS-CoV is not known but the virus may have originated in animals in the Arabian peninsula.
Most people who are infected with MERS-CoV develop severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath, pneumonia and respiratory distress. Some people were reported as having a mild respiratory illness. There are many types of illnesses that can cause these types of respiratory symptoms. Persons who have these symptoms and have had close contact with someone with MERS-CoV or persons who have traveled to the Arabian peninsula are persons who are more likely to have MERS-CoV. There is no specific treatment, just supportive hospital care.
The best way to avoid getting or spreading any respiratory virus is to wash your hands, cover your cough, and stay home if you're sick with a respiratory infection. Healthcare facilities should follow appropriate infection control measures.
For more information, see the Frequently Asked Questions and the following websites.
MERS-CoV - CDC
Coronavirus Infections - World Health Organization
Coronavirus Infections – European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
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