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Symptoms & Complications

Most people confirmed to have MERS-CoV infection have had severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath

Some people also had gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhea and nausea/vomiting. For many people with MERS, more severe complications followed, such as pneumonia and kidney failure. About 3-4 out of every 10 people reported with MERS have died. Most of the people who died had an underlying medical condition. Some infected people had mild symptoms (such as cold-like symptoms) or no symptoms at all; they recovered.

Based on what researchers know so far, people with pre-existing medical conditions (also called comorbidities) may be more likely to become infected with MERS-CoV, or have a severe case. Pre-existing conditions from reported cases for which we have information have included diabetes; cancer; and chronic lung, heart, and kidney disease. Individuals with weakened immune systems are also at higher risk for getting MERS or having a severe case.

Based on information we have to date, the incubation period for MERS (time between when a person is exposed to MERS-CoV and when they start to have symptoms) is usually about 5 or 6 days, but can range from 2-14 days.