Meningococcal Disease Cases Linked to Travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA): Ensure Pilgrims are Current on Meningococcal Vaccination

Date:5/20/2024
Official Message No.:112088-5-20-2024-PHAD
Contact Info: Elizabeth | Elizabeth.Zaremski@doh.nj.gov
Attachments: Yes Attachment 1

Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the attached Health Alert Network Health Advisory to alert healthcare providers of meningococcal disease linked to Umrah travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

This year, the annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage will take place between June 14-19, 2024, in the KSA. The Hajj is one of the world’s largest religious events, taking place annually. Mass gatherings can pose public health challenges to the health of the attendees and the host country population and health services.

Since April 2024, 12 cases of meningococcal disease linked to KSA travel for Umrah have been reported to national public health agencies in the United States (5 cases), France (4 cases), and the United Kingdom (3 cases). The majority of cases belong to meningococcus serogroup W and have no history of meningococcus vaccination.

Pilgrims should follow travel health advice, including advice on basic infection control measures to reduce the risk of acquiring and spreading infections. The advice includes vaccination with required and recommended vaccines prior to the Hajj. Vaccination with the quadrivalent (ACWY) meningococcal vaccine at least 10 days before departure is particularly important. It also includes advice on maintaining good handwashing and respiratory etiquette as well as ensuring all food is thoroughly cooked and avoiding mosquito bites.

During or on return from the Hajj, pilgrims should seek immediate medical attention if they experience symptoms of an infection, e.g. fever, respiratory or gastrointestinal infections. Pilgrims should inform their healthcare provider of their travel history to the Hajj.

Please see the CDC Health Advisory and the Travel Health Notice for more information.


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