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Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus

The first United States case of confirmed Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), identified in a traveler, was reported to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by the Indiana State Department of Health on May 1st, 2014.

The patient, who had been hospitalized, returned from Saudi Arabia and became symptomatic during transit. MERS-CoV is associated with severe respiratory illness (symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath) and high death rates, though mild and asymptomatic infections have been reported.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is viral respiratory illness first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It is caused by a coronavirus called MERS-CoV. Most people who have been confirmed to have MERS-CoV infection developed severe acute respiratory illness. They had fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About 30% of these people died.

Information on MERS-CoV, such as symptoms, testing, infection prevention and control recommendations and checklists are available on the CDC's Middle East Respiratory Syndrome web page.

Additional information can be found in the MERS-CoV Risk Assessment document provided by the World Health Organization (WHO).

New Mexico Department of Health is asking that healthcare providers, infection preventionists and laboratorians be alert for and evaluate patients who meet the following:

  • Developed severe acute lower respiratory illness within 14 days after traveling from countries in or near the Arabian peninsula (e.g., Saudia Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Kuwait); OR
  • Close contacts of a recent traveler from this area who has fever and acute respiratory illness; OR
  • Close contacts of a confirmed case

Clusters of patients with severe acute respiratory illness (e.g., fever and pneumonia requiring hospitalization), without recognized connections to patients with MERS-CoV or to travelers from the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding areas, should be evaluated for common respiratory pathogens.

Healthcare providers should call the New Mexico Department of Health on-call epidemiologist 24/7/365 at 1-833-796-8773 if they suspect any patients with MERS-CoV.