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Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a viral respiratory illness, first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It has been identified in eight countries — France, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and the U.K. — and its spread is mostly linked to travel in the Middle East. 

Corona viruses can cause the common cold but also more severe illnesses like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). People infected with MERS-CoV have experienced influenza-like illness with signs and symptoms of pneumonia, which may include coughing, mucous, shortness of breath, malaise, chest pain and fever. Many also have gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea.

Because some infections occur in clusters, through close contacts or being in a health-care setting, it has been suggested that the virus can spread between humans. Yet no sustained person-to-person transmission has occurred. The risk of contracting this infection remains low.

The World Health Organization continues to work with the countries affected as well as with other international partners in supporting investigations to help better understand the disease and its risks.

The following resources include more detailed and up-to-date information on MERS-CoV, including the number and location of confirmed cases and symptoms. It is important for nurses to be current with their knowledge and practice in infection control  to protect themselves, their families and those they care for.

Related links for updates