A new coronavirus called “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus” (MERS-CoV) was first identified in September 2012 as the cause of severe respiratory illness in humans. It was initially found in people living in Saudi Arabia and called “novel coronavirus.” Since then, over a thousand cases have been confirmed worldwide. The majority of cases have been reported from Saudi Arabia. All reported cases have been directly or indirectly linked through travel or residence to nine countries: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Oman, Kuwait, Yemen, Lebanon, and Iran.
In the USA, 2 patients tested positive for MERS-CoV in May 2014 and were determined to be imported cases from Saudi Arabia. Imported cases have occurred in Europe, North Africa, China, and South Korea.
An outbreak of MERS-CoV began in South Korea In May 2015, when an individual became ill after traveling to several countries of the Arabian Peninsula, and then sought medical care at several healthcare facilities in South Korea.
In order to promptly identify potential MERS-CoV cases, healthcare providers should:
- Obtain a detailed travel history from patients ill with acute respiratory disease
- Maintain awareness of the need to consider MERS-CoV infection in ill persons who have recently traveled from countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula or been in a healthcare facility in South Korea.
For Health Care Providers:
- SFDPH Health Advisory (June 16, 2015) with Updated Recommendations for Evaluation & Laboratory Submission (scroll down to find the 2015 Advisory)
- CDC Health Advisory (June 2015) with Updated Guidelines for Evaluation of Patients for MERS-CoV
- CDC Infection Prevention & Control Recommendations for Hospitalized Patients with MERS-CoV
- CDC Home Care and Isolation or Quarantine Recommendations for MERS-CoV Patients Not Requiring Hospitalization
- SFDPH guidelines for collecting and processing MERS-CoV laboratory specimens.
- As of June 11, 2015, the CDC updated its Interim Guidance for testing for MERS-CoV. Click here to learn more about updated testing guidance. Please contact the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Communicable Disease Control Unit at (415) 554-2830 to discuss MERS-CoV testing.