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For Immediate Release: March 20, 2000
Contact: CDC Media Relations (404) 639-3286
CDC investigating meningococcal disease among pilgrims returning from the Hajj
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with state and local health departments around the United States to investigate cases of serogroup W-135 meningococcal disease among pilgrims returning from the Hajj in Mecca and their close personal contacts.
Three cases have been reported by the New York City Department of Health among persons with a travel history to Mecca, their family members who did not travel to Mecca or close community contacts. Several European countries report more than 3 dozen cases of meningococcal disease among these pilgrims.
Today CDC notified state health departments to be aware of the possibility of meningococcal disease among individuals who recently (since March 1, 2000) traveled to Saudi Arabia or their household contacts who may not have traveled. In addition, CDC is asking states to enhance monitoring for cases of meningococcal disease in individuals who may have had contact with returning pilgrims or their families within the past four weeks.
Meningitis is an infection of the fluid and membranes covering a person's brain and spinal cord. The bacteria that cause meningitis (one is Neisseria meningitidis) are spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions (i.e., coughing, kissing). All returning pilgrims and their close contacts should be aware of the signs and symptoms of meningitis including:
- intense headache
- stiff neck or neck pain
- pain when looking at bright lights
- nausea and vomiting
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
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