Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus (referred to as MERS-CoV) that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, though gastrointestinal symptoms and pneumonia have also been reported (WHO).
Since September 2012, there have been over 2,400 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS. Around 35% of those patients have died (WHO).
Human-to-human transmission is possible, though rare unless in close contact, such as when providing unprotected care for a patient (WHO).
- The current scientific understanding is that dromedary camels are a major reservoir host for MERS-CoV and the most likely animal source for human infection (WHO).
27 countries have reported cases. However, so far, all cases of MERS have been linked through travel to, or residence in, countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula (WHO, CDC).
The largest known outbreak of MERS outside the Arabian Peninsula occurred in the Republic of Korea in 2015 (CDC).
This occurred in a hospital, reinforcing the need for the U.S. healthcare system to prepare for such an event, however unlikely.
"Figure 3. Epidemic curve of laboratory-confirmed MERS-CoV human infections reported to WHO *as of 30 June 2019". WHO MERS-CoV Global Summary and Assessment of Risk, July 2019 (WHO/MERS/RA/19.1). Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2019. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
Where to Start:
- Consult the CDC guidance here:
Review NETEC’s online module on MERS-CoV to the right above.
Know the signs and symptoms:
"Patients in the U.S. Who Should Be Evaluated for MERS-CoV Infection." CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/interim-guidance.html