Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)


First identified in 2012, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a novel coronavirus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath

Pneumonia is also a common symptom but is not always present.

The disease is more severe in older people and those with underlying disease. Case fatality is reported as approximately 35%.

The vast majority of MERS cases have been reported from the Arabian pennisula, but cases have also been found in other countries, including the UK. Following a single case in 2015, South Korea experienced a large outbreak associated with healthcare facilities.

The source of the virus is thought to be Arabian camels and no sustained human-to-human transmission has ever occurred. However, limited human-to-human transmission can occur if there's close contact to an infected patient and this has led to outbreaks in healthcare facilities.


For all infection prevention and control guidance visit the A-Z ​pathogens section of the National Infection and Prevention Control Manual.


Read the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) rapid risk assessment on the ECDC website.