Middle East Respiratory Syndrome ( or MERS) is a viral respiratory syndrome caused by a newly recognized Coronavirus. It was first recognized in Saudi Arabia in 2012, and and most cases have been in the Middle East, or linked to travelers to the Arabian Peninsula or subsequent contacts of an infected person. There have been cases in travelers that spread infection to other countries. A large outbreak with person to person spread occurred in South Korea in May to July 2015, and has now ended. To date there have been 2 recognized cases in the USA.

The reservoir for MERS likely is from certain species of bats, and camels have shown very high colonization rates, with or without symptoms. Transmission between patients is from an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as through coughing.

The incubation period is usually about 5 or 6 days, but can range from 2-14 days. Symptoms mainly include fever, cough and shortness of breath, and in many patients can lead to more severe complications including pneumonia, respiratory failure, renal failure or even death.

Treatment is largely supportive.


MERS in the US: