Novel Coronavirus Gains Momentum: The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

On May 12, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a second case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the United States. (The first case was reported in Chicago on May 2, 2014.)The case of a Florida man diagnosed with MERS-CoV was confirmed on May 11. The man had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia. “All reported cases of MERS have been linked to countries in the Arabian Peninsula.” MERS-CoV is a new virus to humans, having been first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Including the cases in the U.S., there have been 538 confirmed cases of MERS in 14 countries, and 145 people have died. “Officials do not know where the virus came from or exactly how it spreads. There is no available vaccine or specific treatment recommended for the virus.”

MERS is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus. Coronaviruses are common viruses that most people get some time in their life. It is likely that coronaviruses spread through the air by coughing and sneezing, and through close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands. The CDC is unsure where the virus originated; however the virus likely came from an animal source. Camels in some countries on the Arabian Peninsula “have tested positive for antibodies to MERS-CoV, indicating they were previously infected with MERS-CoV.


To learn more about MERS-CoV, please visit the following links:

At this time the CDC does not recommend anyone change their travel plans to the Arabian Peninsula. 

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