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H1N1 fatalities in the Hajj

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  • H1N1 fatalities in the Hajj,80185

    Archive Number 20091122.4013
    Published Date 22-NOV-2009
    Subject PRO/AH/EDR> Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (113): Saudi Arabia, Hajj fatalities

    ************************************************** *****************
    A ProMED-mail post
    ProMED-mail is a program of the
    International Society for Infectious Diseases

    Date: Sat 21 Nov 2009
    Date: BBC News [edited]

    Saudi officials say 4 pilgrims have died of swine flu [influenza
    pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus infection] as they take part in this
    year's [2009] annual Mecca pilgrimage. 3 of the victims -- a woman
    from Morocco and men from Sudan and India -- were in their 70s. The
    4th was a 17-year-old girl from Nigeria

    The Health Ministry said none of the 4 foreign victims had been
    vaccinated against the [pandemic] H1N1 virus. An official statement
    released by the Ministry said all had underlying health problems,
    including cancer and respiratory illness, the AFP [Agence
    France-Presse] news agency reported. 3 of the victims died in Medina
    and one in Mecca.

    Up to 3 million Muslims from around the world take part in the holy
    pilgrimage every year, but health officials have expressed fears that
    it could provide a breeding ground for the virus. Authorities had
    tried to prepare for any outbreaks by installing thermal [imaging]
    cameras at airports and sea terminals, deploying 15 000 additional
    health workers and ensuring hundreds of extra beds were available.

    Health Ministry spokesman Dr Khaled Marghlani told AFP that 16 other
    people had diagnosed with swine flu and 4 remain in hospital in
    "critical condition." He added 12 others had recovered following treatment

    The Saudi government has said all pilgrims need a certificate of
    vaccination before they can apply for a visa [see also ProMED-mail
    Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (109): Saudi Arabia, Hajj pilgrims
    20091120.3997]. In September [2009], the Egyptian authorities barred
    hundreds of Muslim pilgrims in Cairo from travelling to Mecca because
    of fears about the [pandemic] virus. In July [2009], an Egyptian
    woman returning from the lesser Umrah pilgrimage became the 1st
    person to die of swine flu in the Middle East and Africa. Performing
    the Hajj is incumbent upon all Muslims who have the means to make the
    journey to Mecca. Iran banned all pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia during
    Ramadan in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus

    Communicated by:
    ProMED-mail Rapporteur Kunihiko Iizuka

    [The HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map of Saudi Arabia can be accessed at
    <>. - Mod.CP]

  • #2
    Re: H1N1 fatalities in the Hajj

    Several comments are in order to make sense of this post. First, note that 3 of the four fatalities are in their 70s, an age not typically hit by Pandemic H1N1. That suggests that there are really far more than 16 people in the Hajj infected with the pandemic virus, and that these cases are of note only because of their severity. Secondly, millions of people make the pilgrimmage each year, so the presence of the virus makes a large number of cases likely. Finally, many people with terminal illnesses make the Hajj in order to complete the requirement of their religion before they die. So the CFR among Hajj pilgrims is likely to be MUCH higher than in the population as a whole.