Boosting pilgrims' safety with the latest electronic disease surveillance at the Hajj

May 21, 2014, Lancet

In this Review, Professor Ziad Memish, Deputy Minister of Health for Public Health in Saudi Arabia and colleagues outline the latest real-time disease surveillance system that was recently piloted to successfully monitor and assess public health risks among the 5 million pilgrims from 184 countries during the Hajj 2012 and Hajj 2013.

The health-care web-based electronic surveillance system was introduced in 2012 to help officials respond more quickly and effectively to potential infectious disease threats. Hospitals, clinics, and medical centres in Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah that provide free medical care during the Hajj were able to rapidly relay demographic and health data to the operations centre in Makkah to guide further investigation and intervention. The new technology was successfully put to the test after MERS coronavirus was first discovered in September 2012. No cases of MERS infection were reported during the Hajj in 2012 and 2013.

According to Professor Memish, "After decades of managing millions of pilgrims who undertake the Hajj, Saudi Arabia is at the forefront of expertise in providing surveillance and health care during , and in 2012 established the Global Center for Mass Gatherings Medicine. This centre is a virtual research network of academic and institutions from around the world who will conduct studies to develop optimum recommendations for the prevention, management, and control of infectious diseases for countries that host mass gatherings, and to help strengthen global health security."

Explore further: Two die of MERS in Saudi capital ahead of annual hajj (Update)

More information: www.thelancet.com/series/mass-gatherings-medicine

Related Stories

Two die of MERS in Saudi capital ahead of annual hajj (Update)

October 10, 2013
Two Saudis have died in Riyadh after they contracted the MERS virus, health authorities announced Thursday, as the kingdom prepares to host some two million Muslim pilgrims for the annual hajj.

New Saudi cases lift MERS infections to 136, WHO reports

October 4, 2013
The global number of infections with the deadly MERS virus has risen to 136, after hard-hit Saudi Arabia confirmed six new cases, the World Health Organization said Friday.

UN warns countries to bolster fight against MERS virus (Update)

May 14, 2014
The UN health agency Wednesday warned countries to bolster their guard against the MERS virus, which has killed 152 people in Saudi Arabia and is causing alarm as it spreads elsewhere.

Muslim hajj pilgrimage in focus amid MERS virus fears

June 29, 2013
Virologists are casting a worried eye on this year's Islamic hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia as they struggle with the enigmatic, deadly virus known as MERS which is striking hardest in the kingdom.

Researchers describe potential for MERS coronavirus to spread internationally

July 19, 2013
The life-threatening MERS coronavirus that has emerged in the Middle East could spread faster and wider during two international mass gatherings involving millions of people in the next few months, according to researchers ...

Saudi urges elderly to avoid hajj over virus fears

July 13, 2013
Saudi Arabia Saturday urged elderly and chronically ill Muslims not to perform the hajj pilgrimage, to curb the spread of the MERS coronavirus which has killed 38 in the kingdom.

Recommended for you

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.