Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

If you are a health professional evaluating a patient for suspected MERS-CoV infection please contact the Minnesota Department of Health immediately at 651-201-5414. 

History of MERS-CoV

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus that has not been found in people before. The first cases were reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and all cases thus far have been associated with travel to the Arabian Peninsula* or close contact with someone who is ill and had recent travel to that area. Clusters of cases have been observed in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Kingdom, France, Tunisia, and Italy.

MERS-CoV is not the same coronavirus that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. However, it is in the same family of viruses and is most similar to coronaviruses found in bats.

*The Arabian Peninsula includes: Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestinian territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Yemen

MERS-CoV Transmission

  • CDC and WHO are still working to determine how this virus is spread.
  • The virus has shown person to person spread among close contacts including family members and healthcare workers.
  • Most people infected have developed severe illness and about half of them have died.

About MERS-CoV Illness

  • Anyone with recent travel to the Arabian Peninsula* who experiences fever, cough or other acute illness should see a Health Care Provider as soon as possible and mention your recent travel.    
  • Information for Travelers

  • For Travelers
    Guidance for Travel for further information on how to protect yourself while traveling.

Information for Health Professionals

Updated Tuesday, June 09, 2015 at 03:56PM