Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection

Dr Daniel J Bell and Dr Henry Knipe et al.

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection is an uncommon coronavirus infection (<1000 cases) with the first case reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It most commonly causes pneumonia and acute renal failure with a mortality rate of ~40%. MERS-CoV raises concern because of its similarity to SARS-CoV infection, with similar spread via infected cases who travel by air. 

MERS-CoV primary cases have been isolated to the Middle East (most commonly Saudi Arabia), travel-related cases have been reported in western Europe, North America and eastern Asia 3,5. The average age is ~50 years with a slight male predominance of 1.5:1 3

The infection may be subclinical. If symptomatic, features range from mild upper respiratory tract coryzal symptoms (high fever, cough) to severe respiratory distress and multiorgan failure 3,4. Vomiting and diarrhea are also a feature 3.  

MERS-CoV belongs to lineage C of the β-coronaviruses, the first known to infect humans, and is a single-stranded RNA virus 4. The origin and mode of transmission are unclear, but bats are the likely original source and transmission suspected to be via dromedary camels 3-5,9. Human-to-human transmission occurs and is responsible for the international spread 4,5

MERS-CoV infection can result in:

The radiographic features of MERS-CoV infection can be variable due to the variability in the severity of disease 7.

Reported chest x-ray features in a case series of 55 patients 8:

Reported CT chest features in a case series of seven patients 6:

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Article information

rID: 39692
System: Chest
Section: Syndromes
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS)
  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: photo - MERS-CoV
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