MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, causes respiratory illness. Most recently, there has been an outbreak in South Korea with 182 cases and 33 deaths as of June 30, 2015. It was first diagnosed in Saudi Arabia in 2012. MERS has now spread to 25 countries. Two cases have been diagnosed in the United States. Both persons have traveled from Saudi Arabia. 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
The most up-to-date information, including travel alerts, is available at:
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