MERS-CoV, like other coronaviruses, likely spreads from an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as through coughing. However, we don’t fully understand the precise ways that the virus spreads.
MERS-CoV has spread from ill people to others through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person. Infected people have spread MERS-CoV to others in healthcare settings, such as hospitals. Researchers studying MERS have not seen any ongoing spreading of MERS-CoV in the community.
All reported cases have been linked to countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula. Most infected people either lived in the Arabian Peninsula or recently traveled from the Arabian Peninsula before they became ill. A few people became infected with MERS-CoV after having close contact with an infected person who had recently traveled from the Arabian Peninsula. The largest known outbreak of MERS outside the Arabian Peninsula occurred in the Republic of Korea in 2015. It was associated with a traveler returning from the Arabian Peninsula.
Public health agencies continue to investigate clusters of cases in several countries to better understand how MERS-CoV spreads from person to person.
Also see People at Increased Risk for MERS.