Updated June 11, 2014
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is 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 six countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula. As of May 28, 2014, there have been 635 laboratory confirmed cases, including 193 deaths. Two cases have been identified in the United States, both associated with travel to Saudia Arabia. Subsequent testing on a U.S. contact who was previously thought to have developed antibodies against MERS-CoV were negative. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now believes this individual was not infected with MERS-CoV. At this time, there is no evidence of any secondary transmission within the U.S. from these 2 cases. The CDC's recommendations to the public, travelers, and healthcare providers have not changed on the basis of this new information.
This virus has spread from ill people to others through close contact (for example, taking care of an ill person). However, the virus has not shown to spread in a sustained way in communities. The situation is still evolving.
CDC is working with partners to better understand the risks of this virus, including the source, how it spreads, and how infections might be prevented.
For more information visit the Centers for Disease Control's MERS Page. Local health practitioners should view the May 8th Health Update below for testing, infection control, and reporting guidelines. Additional questions should be directed to the Health Department's Communicable Disease Unit (831-755-4521).
Information for Healthcare Providers: