MERS in the U.S.

MERS in the U.S.
Updated Aug. 2, 2019

MERS represents a very low risk to the general public in this country. Only two patients in the U.S. have ever tested positive for MERS-CoV infection—both in May 2014—while more than 1,300 have tested negative. CDC continues to closely monitor the situation.

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 scientists believe they were infected. Both were hospitalized in the U.S. and later discharged after fully recovering.

CDC and other public health partners continue to closely monitor the MERS situation. We recognize the potential for MERS-CoV to spread further and cause more cases in the United States and globally. In preparation for this, we continue to

  • collaborate with international partners on epidemiologic and laboratory studies to better understand MERS
  • improve the way we collect data about MERS cases
  • increase lab testing capacity in states to detect cases
  • develop guidance and tools for health departments to conduct public health investigations when MERS cases are suspected or confirmed
  • provide recommendations for healthcare infection control and other measures to prevent disease spread
  • provide 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
  • disseminate up-to-date information to the general public, international travelers, and public health partners
  • use 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.)

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