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MERS in the U.S.

The MERS situation in the U.S. represents a very low risk to the general public in this country.

In May 2014, CDC confirmed two unlinked imported cases of MERS in the United States – one to Indiana, the other to Florida. Both cases were among healthcare providers who lived and worked in Saudi Arabia. Both traveled to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia, where they are believed to have been infected. Both were hospitalized in the U.S. and later discharged.

To date, active MERS-CoV infection has not been found in any contact of either U.S. MERS patient. Public health investigations are ongoing.

CDC and other public health partners continue to investigate and respond to the changing situation to prevent the spread of MERS-CoV in the U.S. We recognize the potential for MERS-CoV to spread further and cause more cases globally and in the United States. In preparation for this, we have

  • Improved the way we collect data about MERS cases
  • Increased lab testing capacity in states to detect cases
  • Developed guidance and tools for health departments to conduct public health investigations when MERS cases are suspected or confirmed
  • Provided recommendations for healthcare infection control and other measures to prevent disease spread
  • Provided guidance for flight crews, Emergency Medical Service (EMS) units at airports, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officers about reporting ill travelers to CDC
  • Disseminated up-to-date information to the general public, international travelers, and public health partners
  • Used Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD) methods to sequence the complete virus genome on specimens from the two U.S. MERS cases to help evaluate and further describe the characteristics of MERS-CoV. (See Decoding MERS Coronavirus: AMD Provides Quick Answers.)

First U.S. Case (Indiana)

On May 2, 2014, the first U.S. case of MERS was confirmed in a traveler who came to the U.S. (Indiana) from Saudi Arabia, via London and Chicago. The traveler is a U.S. citizen who lives and works as a healthcare provider in Saudi Arabia at a hospital in which MERS patients had received care.

  • On or around April 18, the traveler began feeling unwell and developed a low-grade fever while still in Saudi Arabia.
  • On April 24, the traveler departed Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and traveled by plane to London, England, then to Chicago, Illinois. The traveler then took a bus from Chicago to Indiana.
  • On April 27, the traveler experienced increasing fever and developed respiratory symptoms including runny nose, coughing and shortness of breath.
  • On April 28, the traveler went to an emergency department of a hospital in Indiana, and was admitted to that hospital on the same day. The patient later tested positive for infection with MERS-CoV.
  • On May 9, health officials verified that the patient tested negative for active MERS-CoV infection, was no longer symptomatic, and posed no threat to the community; the patient was considered to be fully recovered and was discharged from the hospital.

More about the Indiana case.

Second U.S. Case (Florida)

On May 11, 2014, the second U.S. case of MERS was confirmed in a traveler who also came to the U.S. (Orlando) from Saudi Arabia, via London, Boston and Atlanta. This traveler is also a healthcare provider who lives and works in Saudi Arabia. The case is unlinked to the first U.S. case of MERS.

  • On May 1, the patient traveled by plane from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to London, England; to Boston, Massachusetts; to Atlanta, Georgia; and to Orlando, Florida.
  • The patient began feeling unwell on May 1 during the flight from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to London and continued to feel unwell on subsequent flights with reported symptoms including muscle aches, fever, chills, and a slight cough.
  • The patient continued to have intermittent fevers, nausea, and severe muscle aches while in Orlando.
  • On May 9, the patient went to the emergency department of a hospital in Florida and was admitted to that hospital the same day. The patient later tested positive for infection with MERS-CoV.
  • On May 18, health officials verified that the patient tested negative for active MERS-CoV infection, was no longer symptomatic, and posed no threat to the community; the patient was considered to be fully recovered and was discharged from the hospital.

More about the Florida case.

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