Sign In
Boston Public Health Commission Home


May 12
MERS Facts

What is MERS and MERS-CoV?

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a respiratory illness caused by an emerging coronavirus called "Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus" (MERS-CoV). Coronaviruses are a group of common viruses that cause upper respiratory tract infections. MERS was first reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia.​

Where has MERS been detected?

To date, there have been two confirmed cases of MERS in the United States, including one case that transferred flights at Boston Logan International Airport. Both cases were among recent travelers to the Arabian Peninsula. All cases of MERS have been linked to countries in the Arabian Peninsula, including Saudi Arabia, Uni​ted Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Kuwait, and Yemen. The virus has spread from ill people to others through close contact, including those caring for or living with an infected person. For current information, visit

**Please note: The Boston Public Health Commission contacts all Boston residents who have shared a flight with a known MERS case.**

Persons traveling through Logan Airport are not at risk of exposure to MERS.

What are the symptoms of MERS?

People infected with MERS-CoV develop acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Cases can be severe, with about 30% of all confirmed MERS cases resulting in death. Some cases have been reported as mild.

Does MERS-CoV spread from person to person?

​MERS-CoV has been shown to spread between people who are in close contact. This includes anyone who provided care for an ill person (including healthcare workers and family members) and anyone who stayed in the same place with a person while they were ill (e.g. lived with, visited).

What is the source of MERS-CoV?

It is still unclear exactly where MERS-CoV came from, but likely from an animal. MERS-CoV has been found in camels and a bat in the Arabian Peninsula. More information is needed to identify the possible role camels, bats, and other animals may play in spreading MERS-CoV.

Is there a vaccine?

There is currently no vaccine for MERS.

What are the treatments?

There are no specific treatments for illnesses caused by MERS-CoV. Medical care is supportive and to help relieve symptoms.

Why is MERS of concern?

Person-to-person transmission through close contact has been documented, indicating that MERS-CoV has the potential to spread further and cause more cases globally. Most people who have been confirmed to have MERS-CoV infection developed severe acute respiratory illness (fever, cough, and shortness of breath) and more than 30% of these people died.

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

As of May 2014, no travel restrictions to the Arabian Peninsula have been placed due to MERS. However, you should always follow standard precautions to protect yourself (see below). For current information on travel and MERS, visit

What if I recently traveled to a country that has reported MERS and I get sick?

​​If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness (cough or shortness of breath) within 14 days after traveling to the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries, contact your healthcare provider immediately and tell them about your symptoms and recent travel.


There are no comments for this post.

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Blog Tools

Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: