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Mers (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome)


Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a respiratory illness caused by a viral infection. The virus that causes MERS is mostly found in Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. You may be at risk if you or someone close to you lives in or has traveled to these areas. You may also be at risk if you have been near camels with the virus. MERS may lead to severe, life-threatening problems if you have other health conditions, such as diabetes, lung disease, or a weak immune system. If you have these health conditions, scientists recommend staying away from areas where the virus is present.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have trouble breathing or shortness of breath.
  • You have a fast heartbeat and your chest hurts.
  • Your lips, skin, or nails are blue.
  • You feel dizzy, lightheaded, or faint.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You are coughing more, or your fever does not go away when your healthcare provider said it should.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Medicines are given to treat the viral infection and reduce your symptoms.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Prevent the spread of MERS:

MERS is spread when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes. People can become infected by breathing in the virus or getting the virus in their eyes. If you are sick, stay home or away from others until you are well. Follow the directions below to prevent the spread of the MERS virus:

  • Limit close contact with others. If you are sick, stay in a different room, or sleep in a separate bed. Remind others to stay at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from you while you are sick. Open the windows to let fresh air into the room. Do not share towels, linens, eating utensils, or dishes without cleaning them first.
  • Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Throw away tissues right after you use them. Wash your hands after you sneeze or cough. Wear a mask if you are sick.
  • Wash your hands often. You and everyone in your home must your wash hands throughout the day. Use soap and water. Use germ-killing gel if soap and water are not available. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a diaper, or prepare and eat food. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you have washed your hands first.
  • Wear disposable gloves and a mask if you care for someone who is sick. Wash your hands after you take off your gloves and mask. Throw away the gloves after each use. Throw away your mask if it gets wet or comes in contact with fluids from the person you are caring for.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces often. Use household cleaner or bleach diluted with water to clean counters, doorknobs, toilet seats, and other surfaces.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Mers (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) (Aftercare Instructions)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex