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Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)


In 2012, a severe illness that can cause fever, lung infections (pneumonia), kidney damage, and death was first identified in persons living on the Arabian Peninsula. It is caused by a new type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses typically cause mild upper respiratory infection like a cold. A coronavirus, however, was responsible for SARS, an illness that killed 800 people in Hong Kong, Southeastern China, and the Toronto area back in 2003. The new virus is called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus or "MERS-CoV."

Quick Facts
  • As of May  2014, there have been over 500 confirmed cases of this illness in 12 countries. About 1 in 4 of those ill have died.
  • All those ill either had been on the Arabian Peninsula within 14 days of becoming ill, or had been in direct, close contact with a person, ill with the disease, who had been there.
  • Cases with exposure in the Arabian Peninsula have been reported in the U.S. Get the latest MERS information from the CDC.

While cases of MERS-CoV in the U.S. represent a very low risk to the public, experts do not yet know exactly how this virus is spread, and so CDC advises people to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses by washing hands often, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, avoid touching the eyes, nose and/or mouth with unwashed hands, and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

Frequently Asked Questions
For Healthcare Providers

Disease Reporting

What is required?

Healthcare providers and clinical laboratories are required by law to report suspect cases of MERS to local health departments immediately, day or night. If you cannot reach your local health department, call 971-673-1111 to reach the state health department doctor on call.

See our disease reporting page for information on how to report and for telephone numbers of local health departments.

For County Health Departments

See Also