Alert – MERS in the Arabian Peninsula

As of June 2017, nearly 2,000 cases of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) have been identified in multiple countries in the Arabian Peninsula, including in travelers to the region.* In about one-third of the cases, the patients have died. For more information, see CDC’s MERS website.

It is not clear how people are exposed to MERS coronavirus, which causes MERS. However, evidence of transmission to humans from direct contact with camels has been steadily increasing. Most instances of person-to-person spread have occurred in healthcare workers and other close contacts (such as family members and caregivers) of people sick with MERS.

CDC does not recommend that travelers change their plans because of MERS.  If you are concerned about MERS, you should discuss your travel plans with your doctor.

What is MERS?

MERS is a viral respiratory illness first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. The virus that causes MERS is different from any other virus that has been previously found in people. Symptoms of MERS include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. CDC is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners to understand the public health risks from this virus.

What can travelers do to prevent MERS?

All travelers

All travelers can take these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of germs and protect against colds, flu, and other illnesses:


    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.


    • Avoid close contact with sick people.


    • Be sure you are up-to-date with all of your shots and, if possible, see your healthcare provider at least 4–6 weeks before travel to get any additional shots.



Health care workers

People who are traveling to provide health care services in the Arabian Peninsula should review CDC’s recommendations for infection control of confirmed or suspected MERS cases.

Exposure to camels

The MERS virus has been found in camels, and some patients with MERS have reported contact with camels. However, we do not know exactly how people become infected with the virus.

WHO has posted a general precaution for anyone visiting farms, markets, barns, or other places where animals are present. Travelers should practice general hygiene measures, including regular handwashing before and after touching animals, and avoid contact with sick animals. For more information, see

WHO considers certain groups to be at high risk for severe MERS. These groups include people with diabetes, kidney failure, or chronic lung disease, as well as people who have weakened immune systems. WHO recommends that these groups avoid contact with camels.

For more information, see

If you are sick:

    • Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the used tissue in the trash.


    • Avoid contact with other people to keep from infecting them. This might mean delaying your travel until you are well.


    • Call a doctor if you develop a fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after traveling from countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula.* You should tell the doctor about your recent travel before you go in for an appointment.


    • Tell people who have been in close contact with you to monitor their health for 14 days after the last time they were around you.
        • They should call a doctor and tell them about your illness and travel history and their current symptoms.



    • If you get sick while you are traveling, see Getting Health Care Abroad for information about how to locate medical services overseas.


Clinician Information:

Health care providers should be alert to patients who develop fever and symptoms of respiratory illness within 14 days after traveling from countries in the Arabian Peninsula* or neighboring countries, excluding those who transited at airports without entering the countries.

    • Take precautions to reduce contact between any patient seeking care for symptoms consistent with MERS infection and other patients and staff. For more information, see CDC’s MERS Information for HealthCare Providers.


    • Consider other more common causes of respiratory illness, such as influenza.



    • Immediately report patients with unexplained respiratory illness who meet CDC’s criteria for “patient under investigation (PUI)” to CDC through the state or local health department.


    • Collect specimens for MERS testing from all PUIs and coordinate testing with your state or local health department.


    • Contact your state or local health department if you have any questions.


    • Health departments with questions should contact CDC’s Emergency Operations Center (770-488-7100) or


Additional Information:

*Countries considered in the Arabian Peninsula and neighboring include: Bahrain; Iraq; Iran; Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza; Jordan; Kuwait; Lebanon; Oman; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Syria; the United Arab Emirates (UAE); and Yemen.

via CDC Travelers’ Health

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More information:

MERS-CoV | Home | Middle East Respiratory Syndrome ...

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is viral respiratory illness that was recently recognized in humans. It was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and has since spread to several other countries, including the United States.

MERS-CoV | About MERS | Middle East Respiratory Syndrome | CDC

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is an illness caused by a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus) called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Most MERS patients developed severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. About 3 to 4 ...

Middle East respiratory syndrome - Wikipedia

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), also known as camel flu, is a viral respiratory infection caused by the MERS-coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Symptoms may range from mild to severe. They include fever, cough, diarrhea, and shortness of breath. Disease is typically more severe in those with other health problems.

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