A new coronavirus called “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus” (MERS-CoV) was first identified in 2012 as the cause of severe respiratory illness in humans. Since then, over two thousands 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 countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula.
So far, only 2 patients in the USA were tested positive for MERS-CoV in May 2014, and were determined to be imported cases from Saudi Arabia. There is no specific treatment for MERS-CoV besides supportive care, and no vaccine is available.
What are the symptoms of MERS-CoV?
Most people with MERS-CoV infection have had severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of:
- Shortness of breath
Other symptoms may include chils, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting. Some people may have mild (cold-like symptoms) or no symptoms at all.
How does MERS-CoV spread?
It is not well understood how MERS-CoV spreads, but it can spread from person to person through close contact such as caring for or living with an infected person.
For the Public:
- Frequently Asked Questions about MERS-CoV [English] [Spanish] [Chinese]
- CDC: Information about MERS
- Travelers’ Health: MERS in the Arabian Peninsula
For Health Care Providers:
In order to promptly identify potential MERS-CoV cases, healthcare providers should (1) Obtain a detailed travel history from patients ill with acute respiratory disease, (2) 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.
San Francisco medical providers should contact the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Communicable Disease Control Unit at (415) 554-2830 immediately if considering MERS-CoV testing.
- California Department of Public Health (CDPH) MERS-CoV page
- CDC MERS-CoV page for healthcare professionals
- SFDPH guidelines for collecting and processing MERS-CoV laboratory specimens.