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 the reporting line: 360-778-6150.

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:


Contact Whatcom County Health and Community Services at 360-778-6100
  • 360-778-6100 Main Call Line – available M-F 8:30am to 4:30pm.
    • Afterhours Answering Service – available after 4:30pm and weekends, call 360-778-6100 and press 2 to be connected to the on-call manager or health officer.
  • 360-778-6150 Communicable Disease Report Line – 24 hours a day 7 days a week
  • 360-778-6103 Confidential Communicable Disease Fax – 24 hours a day 7 days a week
  • 509 Girard Street, Bellingham WA 98225