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CDPH Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) Information Webpage 


In September 2012, the World Health Organization announced the discovery of a novel coronavirus. This virus has been named the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).  As of March 2014, MERS-CoV has been identified in several countries in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Oman, and Kuwait), Europe (the United Kingdom, France, and Italy), and Tunisia (http://www.who.int/csr/disease/coronavirus_infections/en/index.html). All of the individuals in Europe and Tunisia had either traveled to the Middle East or had been in close contact with a sick person who had recently traveled to the Middle East. Common symptoms in patients with MERS-CoV include acute, serious respiratory illness with fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. Most patients have had pneumonia. Some patients have also had gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea. Almost half of people infected with MERS-CoV have died. The virus has been shown to spread between people who are in close contact. It can also spread from infected patients to healthcare personnel. No cases of MERS-CoV have been identified in the United States to date.

No travel warnings or restrictions have been issued related to MERS-CoV. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending surveillance and testing for individuals who have unexplained severe respiratory illness and history of travel to countries in the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries*.

Patients Who Should be Evaluated for MERS-CoV Infection

  • A person with fever (≥ 38°C , 100.4°F) and pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome (based on clinical or radiological evidence); AND EITHER
  • History of travel from countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula* within 14 days before symptom onset; OR
  • Close contact** with a symptomatic traveler who developed fever and acute respiratory illness (not necessarily pneumonia) within 14 days after traveling from countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula;* OR
  • Is a member of a cluster of patients with severe acute respiratory illness (e.g., fever and pneumonia requiring hospitalization) of unknown etiology in which MERS-CoV is being evaluated.

*Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries include: Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestinian territories, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

**Close contact is defined as: a) any person who provided care for the patient, including a healthcare worker or family member, or had similarly close physical contact; or b) any person who stayed at the same place (e.g. lived with, visited) as the patient while the patient was ill.

Infection Control Guidance for MERS-CoV Infection

CDC is recommending that infection control guidance developed for SARS be implemented for patients with known or suspected MERS-CoV infection. Therefore, Airborne and Contact Precautions, in addition to Standard Precautions, should be applied when caring for patients with known of possible MERS-CoV infection. CDC interim infection prevention and control guidance for hospitalized paitients with MERS-CoV is available at: http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/infection-prevention-control.html. CDC infection control guidance for SARS is available at: http://www.cdc.gov/sars/infection/.

General Information
General Guidelines for Preventing Transmission
Infection Control
Last modified on: 3/3/2014 8:46 AM