New surveillance case definition: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

This document contains the case definitions for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS CoV) infection which is nationally notifiable within Australia. This definition should be used to determine whether a case should be notified.

Page last updated: 30 June 2016

The following new case definition has been developed by the Case Definitions Working Group and endorsed by the Communicable Diseases Network Australia. The implementation date is 1 July 2016.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)


Confirmed and probable cases should be notified

Confirmed case

A confirmed case requires laboratory definitive evidence

Laboratory definitive evidence

Detection of MERS-CoV coronavirus by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in a public health reference laboratory using the testing algorithm described in the national guideline (SoNG) and summarised below.1

Probable case

A probable case requires clinical evidence AND epidemiological evidence

Clinical evidence

An acute respiratory infection with clinical, radiological, or histopathological evidence of pulmonary parenchymal disease (e.g. pneumonia or pneumonitis or acute respiratory distress syndrome).


No possibility of laboratory confirmation for MERS-CoV because the patient or samples are not available for testing.

Epidemiological evidence

Close contact with a laboratory-confirmed case.


  1. To consider a case as laboratory-confirmed, one of the following conditions must be met:
    • A positive PCR result for at least two different specific targets on the MERS-CoV genome.
    • One positive PCR result for a specific target on the MERS-CoV genome and an additional different PCR product sequenced, confirming identity to known sequences of MERS-CoV.