Pilgrims Warned About Meningitis Outbreak in Saudi Arabia

The U.S. Health Officials CDC has warned Muslim pilgrims departing for Hajj 2024 that ongoing meningitis outbreaks in Saudi Arabia can harm them.
Photo: CDC

CDC issued a travel notice in which the health authorities have found 12 cases of meningitis linked to Umrah pilgrims from Saudi Arabia.

Hajj 2024 is scheduled to happen from June 14, 2024, to June 19, 2024, and over 2 million Muslims are scheduled to arrive in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

Vaccine for Meningitis

Saudi Arabia has also made the vaccine for meningitis mandatory for all pilgrims.

Out of those 12 cases, 9 patients were unvaccinated, the CDC confirmed.

What is Meningitis?

Meningitis is a serious but uncommon disease that can be deadly, killing 10% to 15% of patients even with antibiotic treatment.

Meningitis symptoms cartoon style infographic
Meningitis symptoms

This infection leads to inflammation of the brain and spinal cord linings. Symptoms often include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, and mental status changes.

If the infection spreads to the bloodstream, it can cause additional symptoms like chills, fatigue, cold hands and feet, severe aches and pains, rapid breathing, diarrhea, and a dark purple rash.

Symptoms can worsen quickly and become life-threatening within hours, according to the CDC. Survivors may suffer from complications such as deafness or may require amputation.

The CDC advises doctors to ensure that Muslim patients planning a pilgrimage to Mecca are fully vaccinated against meningitis.

Additionally, doctors should be vigilant for meningitis symptoms in patients returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca.

The last global outbreak of meningitis linked to travel for Hajj occurred in 2000-2001. Since 2002, Saudi Arabia has mandated that international travelers provide proof of meningitis vaccination.

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