Respiratory Syndrome), the severe viral respiratory illness that has been infecting people in the Arabian peninsula, has made its appearance in the United States for the first time. On May 2nd, 2014 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the first U.S. case in an individual who had recently traveled from Saudi Arabia to Indiana.

MERS is caused by a virus known as MERS-CoV and causes symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. Though only a few hundred people have been infected worldwide since the first reported case in Saudi Arabia last year, the illness is severe; nearly one-third of infected patients have died. According to the CDC, the MERS CoV virus currently poses very low risk to the general public in the United States. However all health care providers and emergency responders should be aware of the risk and take appropriate measures to protect themselves.

For more information on what firefighters should know about MERS, please click here.