Health experts from Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) a National Hajj specific organisation in UK has warned over 25,000 prospective British Hajj pilgrims that they must safeguard their health against the risk of communicable diseases such as swine flu, meningitis and hepatitis due to over crowding at ceremonies, accommodation sites and public transports during Hajj pilgrimage.
“The communicable diseases can be transmitted through direct person-to-person contact with droplets of nasal or throat secretions of infected individuals. Close and prolonged contact (e.g. sneezing and coughing on someone, etc.) facilitates the spread of infection. The most common symptoms for swine flu are similar to those of seasonal flu, including unusual tiredness, headache, runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath or cough, loss of appetite, aching muscles and diarrhea or vomiting. People aged older than 65, pregnant women, people suffering from chronic diseases i.e. lungs, heart, kidney, lever etc and children under 12 years old are more at the risk of catching swine flu.” said the Health Experts from ABH.
The Saudi Government has advised that pilgrims planning to perform Hajj pilgrimage must be vaccinated against seasonal flu or the swine flu at least two weeks before applying for a visa depending on the availability of swine flu vaccine.
The Health experts from Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK also reminded the prospective British hajj pilgrims that they should take meningitis threat seriously as well. Over 20 British Hajj returnees have lost their lives due to the meningitis outbreak in the recent past. The most common symptoms specifically for meningitis are stiff neck, high fever, sensitivity to light, confusion, headaches and vomiting. Therefore, it is vital that all prospective pilgrims must get ‘quadrivalent meningococcal’ vaccine (ACWY) before leaving for Saudi Arabia. A valid certificate of meningitis vaccine from your doctor is compulsory to obtain a visa from the Saudi Embassy.
Some barbers around the Holy places pose a risk of spreading diseases, such as Hepatitis and other blood-borne pathogens by using the same razors repeatedly. The Doctors also warned pilgrims to be aware of the risk of using the services provided by these barbers and they must insist that the barbers use disposable razors to shave.
“Protect yourself and your family; don’t ruin your journey with illnesses. Make the most out of this lifetime experience,” said the Health experts from Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK.