CDC Releases MERS-CoV Advisory Following First U.S. Case

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an official health advisory May 3 on the identification of the first case of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in the United States. On May 1, the Indiana State Department of Health reported the suspected case to CDC, which confirmed the infection in a traveler who had visited Saudi Arabia. 

CDC, in conjunction with the Florida Department of Health, confirmed the second U.S. case of the virus May 12. The infected patient is a health care professional who lives and works in Saudi Arabia. 

The advisory features a summary of the first case in the United States; background information on MERS-CoV; recommendations for health professionals; and guidance on infection control, specimen collection, and submission.

For more information, Texas physicians may email Michael P. Fischer, MD, an expert on coronavirus infections who works in the Texas Department of State Health Services Emerging and Acute Infectious Disease Branch, or call him at (512) 776-6338. 

CDC alert asks clinicians, health officials, and others to consider MERS-CoV infection in travelers from the Arabian Peninsula and neighboring countries. MERS-CoV reports have involved respiratory illness and high death rates, as well as mild and asymptomatic infections.

CDC says health care professionals should be alert for and evaluate patients for MERS-CoV infection who: 

  • Develop severe acute lower respiratory illness within 14 days after traveling from countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula, excluding those who only went through airports in the region;
  • Are close contacts of a symptomatic recent traveler from this area who has fever and acute respiratory illness; or
  • Are close contacts of a confirmed case. 

CDC has additional guidance on its website.

For suspected MERS-CoV cases, health professionals should collect the following specimens for submission to CDC or the appropriate state public health laboratory: 

  • Nasopharyngeal swab;
  • Oropharyngeal swab (can be placed in the same tube of viral transport medium); and
  • Sputum, serum, and stool/rectal swab.

For consultation or to report possible cases, contact the CDC Emergency Operations Center at (770) 488-7100.

Action, May 16, 2014

Last Updated On

June 17, 2016

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