Health experts from the Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH) a National Hajj & Umrah specific organisation in the UK, warn prospective Umrah pilgrims who are traveling to Saudi Arabia to perform the Umrah pilgrimage, that they should be aware of the risks of contracting infectious diseases.

Pilgrims are reminded that they are at high risk of contracting infectious diseases, including meningitis due to the crowded condition at ceremonies, accommodation sites, and public transport. Meningococcal infection is transmitted through direct person-to-person contact with droplets of nasal or throat secretions of infected individuals, and close and prolonged contact (e.g. sneezing and coughing on someone, etc.) facilitates the spread of infection. The most common symptoms of meningitis are stiff neck, high fever, sensitivity to light, confusion, headaches and vomiting. Elderly people suffering from chronic diseases, i.e. lungs, heart, kidney, liver, diabetes etc., children, pregnant women, and those with immunity deficiency are specifically at higher risk of contracting infectious diseases.

Meningitis vaccination is a mandatory legal requirement by the Saudi authorities to issue pilgrims entry visa for Saudi Arabia. Pilgrims are strongly urged to get their meningitis vaccine from their doctor, in order to protect themselves and their families before leaving for Umrah pilgrimage. They will also be checked at the Saudi airports by the authorities to ensure that they are vaccinated so they must carry their vaccination certificate with them at all times.

The health experts also remind Umrah pilgrims to take an adequate supply of medicines with them, accompanied by their doctor’s note describing the medicine and their medical history.