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Published On: Sun, Jun 16th, 2013

CDC advises pilgrims to Hajj and Umrah on how to protect against MERS coronavirus and other injuries and illness

With the upcoming Muslim pilgrimages of Hajj and Umrah approaching fast and the infectious disease and injury risks that are associated with such mass gatherings, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers recommendations and advice to protect yourself during these religious events.

The larger of the two events, the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia draws some 3 million pilgrims annually, including more than 11,000 Americans, will likely take place the third week of October (13-18).

Kaaba Public domain image/ Yousefmadari at the wikipedia project

Kaaba
Public domain image/ Yousefmadari at the wikipedia project

In addition, there is the Umrah pilgrimage, which can occur at any time of the year, with typical peak times being the days before, during and after the Hajj and during the last ten days of Ramadan.

There are numerous infectious diseases that are linked to mass crowds like seen in these pilgrimages; however, this year the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has attracted the most attention recently.

With latest reports of 46 laboratory confirmed cases and 28 deaths, Saudi Arabia dwarfs all other countries in cases on MERS-CoV.

The CDC says pilgrims can help protect themselves from respiratory illnesses by washing their hands often; not touching their mouth, nose, or eyes; and avoiding contact with sick people. They should pay attention to their health when traveling in the Arabian Peninsula and seek medical care if they develop a fever and cough or shortness of breath within 14 days after returning from their trip.

Despite the MERS numbers being reported out the kingdom, CDC does not recommend changing travel plans for Hajj or Umrah because of MERS.

MERS is not the only infectious disease concern when attending the Hajj or Umrah. Polio, meningococcal meningitis, hepatitis A and B, typhoid, food borne illnesses and the routine vaccine-preventable diseases are all known issues with these mass gatherings.

Saudi Arabia requires pilgrims to be vaccinated against meningococcal meningitis. Proof of polio vaccine is not required for American pilgrims; however, the CDC recommends a booster.

US health officials recommend pilgrims be up-to-date on routine vaccinations, including the flu shot.

Ensure good food preparation (cooked and drinks  from sealed containers only) is highly recommended, in addition to avoiding animals.

To prevent bodily injuries from tragedies like stampedes associated with mass gatherings, try to avoid the most densely congested areas and try to attend events during non-peak hours. In fact, the Saudi government have urged domestic and foreign pilgrims to postpone their Haj plans for this year if possible due to ongoing expansion work at Makkah’s Grand Mosque, in an unprecedented move aimed at preventing congestion and stampedes and ensuring safety of pilgrims, according to a Eurasia Review report June 16.

Lastly, the CDC warns of the dangers of heat-related injuries associated with the scorching heat in Mecca. “Temperatures in Mecca can easily exceed 100°F in the summer and early fall. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are leading causes of illness in people undertaking Hajj or Umrah during these months”, according to the CDC.

Pilgrims should drink plenty of water (bottled), wear sunscreen, rest, and seek shade as much as possible. Pilgrims who are fasting for Ramadan and cannot drink water during daylight hours should be sure to rehydrate after dusk.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. Muslim Pilgrims Undeterred by MERS Fears, Cast their Cares on the LordBig Online News | Big Online News says:

    […] cancellations of pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia due to MERS: ETF board member – Daily News EgyptCDC advises pilgrims to Hajj and Umrah on how to protect against MERS coronavirus and other injuries… var TubePressJsConfig = […]

  2. The Arab Camel ‘Guilty’ for Sars-like Virus | Walid ShoebatWalid Shoebat says:

    […] Via the Global Dispatch: […]

  3. Saudi Arabia confirms two additional MERS deaths - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] Approximately two and a half weeks ago, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel notice and recommendations for travelers to Saudi Arabia to protect from MERS-CoV for the upcoming pilgrimages of Hajj and Umrah.   According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that includes viruses that may cause a range of illnesses in humans, from the common cold to SARS. Viruses of this family also cause a number of animal diseases. […]

  4. Purdue scientists have a jump on MERS coronavirus treatment going back to SARS | Pack 6 – Palo Alto says:

    […] CDC Advises Pilgrims to Hajj and Umrah on how to protect against MERS Coronavirus and other injuries… […]

  5. Forbidden News » Purdue scientists have a jump on MERS coronavirus treatment going back to SARS says:

    […] CDC Advises Pilgrims to Hajj and Umrah on how to protect against MERS Coronavirus and other injuries… […]

  6. CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON says:

    Global Dispatch HAS SEVERAL ARTICLES ABOUT Coronavirus. SO, I Googled IN ORDER TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT.

    IT IS MY UNDERSTANDING A Coronavirus IS AN ABNORMALLY-LARGE VIRUS (WHICH IS OVAL IN SHAPE) AND HAS A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON THE NORMAL TRAITS OF GENES. Coronavirus ATTACKS THE CELL STRUCTURE OF NORMAL GENES WHICH CAN LEAD TO “COMMON COLDS” AND, – IN DRASTIC CASES – PNEUMONIA. [A malady which – in its severe form – is known as, “SARS”]. A PECULIAR STRAIN OF “SARS” – WHOSE CHARACTERISTICS REMAIN UNKNOWN – HAS APPEARED IN THE MIDDLE-EAST, AND HAS BEEN LABELED Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

    NOW, IF PEOPLE OF MIDDLE-EASTERN DESCENT COME TO AMERICA FOR A BETTER WAY OF LIFE, I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY THEY WANT TO HOLD-ON TO “OLD-WORLD” TRADITIONS OF ISLAM – LIKE, PILGRIMAGES. THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF CHRISTIAN-AMERICANS DO NOT MAKE PILGRIMAGES TO Biblical lands. SO, WHY DO MIDDLE-EASTERN AMERICANS MAKE PILGRIMAGES TO ISLAMIC LANDS? IT IS MY UNDERSTANDING BEING AMERICAN MEANS ACCEPTING ALL THINGS, “Americana.”

    THIS ARTICLE STATES United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention DOES NOT RECOMMEND CHANGING TRAVEL PLANS – OF COURSE, NOT! UNITED STATES WANTS TO HELP AN AIRLINE INDUSTRY WHICH IS PLAGUED IN SCANDAL.

    CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

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