Updated: May 29, 2013
What Is the Current Situation?Cases of respiratory illness caused by Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) have been identified in multiple countries. MERS-CoV was previously called "novel coronavirus." For more information, see CDC’s MERS website.
CDC does not recommend that anyone change their travel plans because of these cases of MERS. CDC recommends that US travelers to countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula* monitor their health and see a doctor right away if they develop fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath. They should tell the doctor about their recent travel.
What Is a Coronavirus?Coronaviruses are a cause of the common cold. A coronavirus also was the cause of the severe respiratory illness called SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). SARS caused a global epidemic in 2003, but there have not been any known cases of SARS since 2004. MERS-CoV is not the same coronavirus that caused SARS.
What Is Known About MERS-CoV?MERS-CoV is different from any other coronavirus that has been previously found in people. Symptoms of MERS have included fever, cough, and shortness of breath. CDC is working with the World Health Organization and other partners to understand the public health risks from this virus.
How Can Travelers Protect Themselves?Taking these everyday actions can help prevent the spread of germs and protect against colds, flu, and other illnesses:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- 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. Visit CDC’s Travelers' Health website for more information on healthy travel.
- If you are sick
- Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue in the trash.
- Avoid contact with other people to keep from infecting them.
When Should Someone See a Health Care Provider?You should see a health care provider if you develop a fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, within 10 days after traveling from countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula*. You should tell the health care provider about your recent travel.
Clinician Information:Health care providers should be alert to patients who develop severe acute lower respiratory illness (e.g., requiring hospitalization) within 10 days after traveling from countries in the Arabian Peninsula* or neighboring countries, excluding those who transited at airports.
- Consider other more common causes of respiratory illness, such as influenza.
- Evaluate patients using CDC’s case definitions and guidance
- Immediately report patients with unexplained respiratory illness and who meet CDC’s criteria for “patient under investigation” to CDC through the state or local health department.
- Consider evaluating patients for MERS-CoV infection who:
- Develop severe acute lower respiratory illness of known etiology within 10 days after traveling from the Arabian Peninsula,* but who do not respond to appropriate therapy
- Develop severe acute lower respiratory illness who are close contacts of a symptomatic traveler who developed fever and acute respiratory illness within 10 days after traveling from the Arabian Peninsula.*
- See additional recommendations and guidance on CDC’s MERS website.
- Contact your state or local health department if you have any questions.
- CDC Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)
- WHO Coronavirus Infection
- Novel Coronavirus, Public Health England
- ECDC: Updates to Rapid Risk Assessment on MERS-CoV (PDF)
- Update: Severe Respiratory Illness Associated with a Novel Coronavirus—Worldwide, 2012–2013 MMWR March 7, 2013/62 (Early Release); 1–2
- Severe Respiratory Illness Associated with a Novel Coronavirus — Saudi Arabia and Qatar, 2012 MMWR October 12, 2012/61; 820–820.