With the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, ending on August 24, the Orange County Health Care Agency reminds providers that Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV or MERS) illness should be considered in returning travelers who present with symptoms consistent with lower respiratory tract infection. MERS infections, while rare, continue to be identified in the Arabian Peninsula.
1 No recent MERS cases have been identified in travelers returning to the United States, but the California Department of Public Health has received several reports in the past week of patients under investigation (PUI) for MERS. In addition, there have been reports from other states of influenza A in patients with recent travel to the Hajj. If influenza A is circulating, more travelers are likely to present with lower respiratory tract symptoms.