Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a virus that can cause acute respiratory illness. MERS-CoV was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
The following countries in the Middle East have reported cases of MERS-CoV: Bahrain, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. The majority of cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia.
Additional cases have been identified in Europe, North Africa, Asia and the United States in people who visited the Middle East or were in close contact with someone who traveled there.
See Public Health Agency of Canada for more information:
Risk to Canadians
The risk to Canadians is low. MERS-CoV does not appear to spread easily from person to person. The primary risk of exposure is present in the affected countries in the Middle East.
Although we do not know exactly how people become infected with MERS-CoV, many people with MERS have had close contact with family members, co-workers, other patients, or healthcare workers who have been sick with MERS. The importance of following strict infection control practices in health care settings cannot be stressed enough.
MERS-CoV has been found in some camels, and some MERS patients have reported contact with camels or camel-based products (e.g. milk or meat). Camels may play a role in the transmission of the virus in the Middle Eastern countries.
Persons with diabetes, kidney failure, or chronic lung disease and those who have weakened immune systems may be at higher risk of developing severe MERS.