MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) Information for Providers

What is MERS?

MERS is a respiratory illness caused by MERS coronavirus, or MERS-CoV. Symptoms can be severe. One third of people with reported infections died from the disease. Most who died had underlying medical conditions, but the disease can affect anyone.

The disease originated near Saudi Arabia in 2012. Only two cases have been confirmed in the U.S.–both travel related. The mode of transmission for the virus is unknown.

Report suspected cases of MERS immediately.

We recommend implementing airborne, contact and standard infection control precautions if MERS is suspected.

Providers and facilities should report potential cases immediately. The health department will coordinate testing of the person under investigation (PUI) and their contacts with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

To report, visit our Reportable Disease Fax Form page, or call Call (253) 649-1412, press 0 (M-F, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.). Or call the 24 hour Reporting Line: (253) 649-1413 and leave a message with the patient\'s first name, last name, date of birth..

Case Definition:

  • Fever (≥ 38°C , 100.4°F) and pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome; AND either
    • Travel from the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries* within 14 days of onset, or
    • Close contact with a person with fever or any respiratory illness who has traveled from the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries* within 14 days.

Additional resources:


  • For urgent issues, call (253) 649-1412.
  • For non-urgent issues, call (253) 649-1413 and leave a message.
    • Includes reporting notifiable conditions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    • Leave the patient’s name, date of birth and disease.