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Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Alert

July 23, 2019

Approximately 3000 Australians travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia each year for the annual Islamic pilgrimage (Hajj).The Kingdom is experiencing an ongoing outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), associated with infections in healthcare facilities and exposure to camels and camel products.

Reducing risk of MERS infection should be discussed with all travellers, it is recommended to:

  • avoid close contact with sick people and sick animals
  • wash hands regularly, take particular care when visiting places where animals are present
  • avoid consuming raw or undercooked camel products, e.g. meat, urine and milk
  • people with existing health problems should avoid all contact with camels.


A number of resources have been developed to assist health care professionals and their patients:

Health professionals should remain vigilant for returned travellers with possible MERS in the months following the Hajj and ensure suspected cases are managed appropriately.

All suspected, probable and confirmed cases should be reported to the state or territory public health unit. MERS is a nationally notifiable disease.