Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Transmission

Emerg Infect Dis. 2020 Feb;26(2):191-198. doi: 10.3201/eid2602.190697.


Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection causes a spectrum of respiratory illness, from asymptomatic to mild to fatal. MERS-CoV is transmitted sporadically from dromedary camels to humans and occasionally through human-to-human contact. Current epidemiologic evidence supports a major role in transmission for direct contact with live camels or humans with symptomatic MERS, but little evidence suggests the possibility of transmission from camel products or asymptomatic MERS cases. Because a proportion of case-patients do not report direct contact with camels or with persons who have symptomatic MERS, further research is needed to conclusively determine additional mechanisms of transmission, to inform public health practice, and to refine current precautionary recommendations.

Keywords: MERS-CoV; Middle East respiratory syndrome; camel; coronavirus; dromedary; emerging infectious disease; epidemiology; healthcare-associated transmission; viruses; zoonoses.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Camelus / virology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / transmission*
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology*
  • Humans
  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus / physiology*
  • Virus Shedding
  • Zoonoses*