A new strain of coronavirus previously unidentified in humans is causing respiratory illness in the Middle East.  It is known as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, which includes viruses that may cause illnesses in humans ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been informed that there is a total of 54 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 30 deaths from September 2012 to date. Middle East countries with MERS-CoV include Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia and the United Kingdom also reported laboratory confirmed cases.Currently, with only a small number of cases reported thus far, there is very limited information on transmission, severity and clinical impact.  Investigations are underway to determine the source of the virus, the types of exposure that lead to the infection, the mode of transmission, and the clinical pattern and course of disease.  In France, Italy, Tunisia and the United Kingdom, there has been limited local transmission among patients who had not been to the Middle East but had been in close contact with the laboratory-confirmed or probable cases.MERS-CoV is an acute, serious respiratory illness with fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Most patients have had pneumonia. Many have also had gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea. Some patients have had kidney failure. For people with immune deficiencies, the disease may have an atypical presentation. It is important to note that the current understanding of illness caused by this infection is based on only a few cases and may change as we learn more about this virus.There is no vaccine currently available and no specific treatment for disease caused by MERS-CoV. Treatment is based on the patients symptoms. WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions.The chances of contracting the virus are small.  Local public health officials continue to monitor the situation in the Cayman Islands. Travellers returning from the Middle East who develop breathing difficulties that are unexplained by any other illness or virus, should contact a doctor as soon as possible and state their travel history so that a correct diagnosis can be made.Additional Information http://www.who.int/csr/disease/coronavirus_infections/faq/en/