Viral respiratory infections associated with the Hajj pilgrimage
Citation: Gautret P, Benkouiten S, Al-Tawfiq JA, et al. Hajj-associated viral respiratory infections: a systematic review. Travel medicine and infectious disease. 2016 Mar 1;14(2):92-109.
What is this? Mass gatherings and travel may increase the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Existing research on such events, including the Hajj, might provide useful information for policy makers.
In this systematic review, the authors searched for studies on the association between the Hajj and viral respiratory infections. They restricted their searches to studies published in English since January 1980 and did the search in May 2015. They included 32 studies.
What was found: The viruses most commonly isolated from symptomatic patients during the Hajj were rhinovirus (5.9% to 48.8% prevalence), influenza virus (4.5% to 13.9%) and non-MERS coronaviruses (2.7% to 13.2%).
Infection rates for viral respiratory infections increased significantly in pilgrims after their Hajj pilgrimage, compared to arriving pilgrims,
In the studies included in this review, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS) were never isolated in Hajj pilgrims.
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