MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, causes respiratory illness. It was first diagnosed in Saudia Arabia in 2012. MERS begins with respiratory symptoms and can rapidly progress to pneumonia within one week, then respiratory failure and septic shock. MERS is spread from respiratory secretions or close contact with an infected person.


Cough, fever, chills, shortness of breath, and headache. The virus is spread by airborne transmission.


MERS can be confirmed by sputum, blood, and stool cultures. Early diagnosis and isolation is critical.





Frequently Asked Questions about MERS

What should I do if I have traveled internationally?

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 the Arabian Peninsula or South Korea , you should seek health care and mention your recent travel. To notify IUP of the illness, contact the IUP Health Service at the Rhonda H. Luckey Center for Health and Well-Being at 724-357-2550. Countries in the Arabian Peninsula include: Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestinian territories, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Yemen.

Can I still travel to countries where MERS cases have occurred?

At the time of this letter, WHO (World Health Organization) and CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention) have not issued travel warnings for any country related to MERS. If you do travel to a country and think you may have been exposed to MERS, you should seek medical treatment and advice before returning to the U.S.

Can I reduce my risk of contracting MERS?

The virus that causes MERS is spread between people who are in close contact. There is no vaccine to prevent this illness. Treatment is supportive and to help relieve symptoms. No specific treatments for MERS are available.

  • CDC advises 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, or sharing cups or eating utensils with sick people.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.

How can I get current information related to MERS?

The most up-to-date information, including travel alerts, is available at: