Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a severe respiratory disease that is thought to be caught from contact with camels or camel products or from another person with MERS.
At this time, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and surrounding regions continue to experience clusters of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), associated with infections in healthcare facilities and exposure to camels and camel products. All cases of MERS have lived in or travelled to the Middle East (mainly the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), or can be linked to another case of MERS. A full list of countries that have ever reported MERS cases can be accessed on the Department’s Countries with laboratory-confirmed cases webpage.
MERS can cause severe symptoms and death in some people. People with existing health conditions that make them more vulnerable to respiratory disease (e.g. the elderly, those with a weakened immune system or those with other health conditions) may be at a higher risk of becoming very unwell or dying due to MERS. There is no vaccine for MERS. Travellers should consult their doctor before travelling to discuss the risks and decide whether travelling to the Middle East is appropriate at this time.
It is important for travellers to protect themselves from MERS by taking precautions to avoid close contact with sick people or animals. Wash hands regularly and take particular care when visiting places where animals are present. Avoid raw, undercooked or unpasteurised camel products, including meat, urine and milk. People with existing health conditions that make them more vulnerable to respiratory disease should also avoid all contact with camels.
A MERS information card has been produced to assist travellers before and after travel. The card can be downloaded from the Department of Health website. Copies are available in multiple languages by emailing Human Biosecurity.