Rapid risk assessment: Public health risks related to communicable diseases during the 2018 Hajj, Saudi Arabia, 19–24 August 2018

risk assessment
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European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Public health risks related to communicable diseases during the 2018 Hajj, Saudi Arabia, 19–24 August 2018 – 2 August 2018. Stockholm: ECDC; 2018.

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The aim of this document is to assess the potential health risks related to communicable diseases and other health threats for EU/EEA citizens during their stay in Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrimage between 19 and 24 August 2018.

Executive summary

Due to the vaccination requirements for travelling to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and the preparedness plans put in place by the host country addressing the management of health hazards during and after the Hajj, the overall risk for EU/EEA citizens of becoming infected with a contagious disease during the 2018 Hajj in Saudi Arabia is considered to be low. The risk of communicable disease outbreaks is highest for food- and waterborne diseases and respiratory illnesses, but the risk is not considered higher than can generally be expected for international mass gatherings of this size. MERS-CoV activity continues to be reported in the Arabian Peninsula, specifically from Saudi Arabia, and therefore imported cases may be detected in Europe following the Hajj. The risk of transmission of other vaccine-preventable and vector-borne diseases is considered to be low. The national health authorities in countries from where Muslims embark on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca should apply appropriate strategies for the prevention and control of communicable diseases before, during and after the completion of the Hajj.