Health officials around the world are paying more attention to increased cases of a new and serious respiratory virus known as MERS or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. So far, all reported cases have been linked to countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MERS poses a very low threat to the general public in the US, but it has been reported in cases related to travel to and from the Middle East. Travelers should pay close attention to their health and be aware of symptoms, which may include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
There is no vaccine to prevent MERS, nor any antiviral treatment. Individuals with MERS can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms.
Coming from the Arabian Peninsula?
UW-Madison students, faculty/staff and visitors should contact a health care provider right away if they develop fever, cough or shortness of breath within 14 days after traveling from countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula.*
UW-Madison students with questions or concerns can call UHS at 608-265-5600.
Faculty/staff and visitors should contact their private health care provider.
*Countries considered in the Arabian Peninsula and neighboring include: Bahrain; Iraq; Iran; Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza; Jordan; Kuwait; Lebanon; Oman; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Syria; the United Arab Emirates (UAE); and Yemen.
Traveling to the Arabian Peninsula?
The CDC currently doesn’t recommend that anyone change their travel plans because of MERS. Most instances of person-to-person spread have occurred in health care workers and other close contacts (such as family members and caregivers) of people sick with MERS. If you are concerned about MERS, you should discuss your travel plans with your health care provider.
The risk to travelers is low, but you should take these steps to prevent the spread of germs:
- Wash your hands often
- Avoid touching your face
- Avoid close contact with sick people