Hajj Pilgrims urged to clue up on Meningitis

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British Muslims prepare for Mecca pilgrimage

BRITISH Muslims planning for the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca are being urged to make sure their meningitis travel vaccines are up to date.

Large epidemics of meningococcal disease have been linked to the Hajj pilgrimage and many cases also occur world-wide after pilgrims return to their own countries.

Following an upturn in cases of meningitis and septicaemia earlier this decade, vaccination is now a visa entry requirement for pilgrims on Hajj and for anyone travelling to Saudi Arabia around the same time as Hajj.

Pilgrims and travellers must have a certificate showing that they have been vaccinated within the last three years.

Without the vaccine officials in Saudi Arabia will refuse entry into the country.

Christopher Head, Chief Executive of national charity Meningitis Research Foundation, said: “Meningitis and septicaemia are diseases that can kill in hours. It is vital that pilgrims protect themselves against these diseases by having the vaccine. But this vaccine only protects against some forms of the diseases, so it is also important for people to know the symptoms. Knowing the symptoms and getting medical help if a case is suspected, saves lives.”

Meningitis Research Foundation provides audio and written information about symptoms and about quadrivalent vaccine for pilgrims on Hajj in many languages including Arabic, Bengali (Sylheti), Gujarati, Punjabi, Somali, Turkish and Urdu on www.meningitis.org

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