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Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness caused by coronavirus (CoV). MERS-CoV causes severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About half of the people who acquired MERS-CoV died. First reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, MERS-CoV has been shown to spread between people who are in close contact. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes the potential for the virus to spread further and cause more cases and clusters globally, including in the United States.


What you can do:
Front-line healthcare providers in the United States should be prepared to evaluate patients for new and emerging infectious diseases such as MERS-CoV.

Healthcare professionals should evaluate patients for MERS-CoV infection if they develop fever and pneumonia within 14 days after traveling from countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula or to areas with a known outbreak.

It is important to follow the rules for standard and droplet precautions to help prevent the spread of MERS-CoV.

The CDC recommends that people follow these tips to help prevent respiratory illnesses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact, such as kissing, sharing cups, or sharing eating utensils, with sick people.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.

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