Hazards of hepatitis at the Hajj

Shafquat M. Rafiq*, Harunor Rashid, Elizabeth Haworth, Robert Booy

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    31 Citations (Scopus)


    While an increased risk of hepatitis is associated with travel, the risk of hepatitis associated with the Islamic Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia has not been carefully quantified. Conditions unique to this gathering can pose the risk of both enteral and parenteral viral hepatitis. During this congregation, pilgrims stay in tents shared by 100 or more people often living on foods from street vendors and sharing common toilet facilities that can expose them to both hepatitis A and E. To mark the end of the festival, head shaving or trimming by fellow pilgrims or street barbers, who often re-use their razor may expose them to hepatitis B or C. Pilgrims are also at risk of cuts to the hands and feet while sacrificing cattle and walking barefooted, which may further increase the risk of parenteral viral hepatitis. Emerging diseases such as Alkhumra virus and Rift Valley fever, which may cause hepatitis, are also potentially important for the Hajj pilgrims. Improved health education to increase awareness about the risk of these diseases and appropriate immunisations, particularly hepatitis A and B vaccines, could play an important role.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)239-246
    Number of pages8
    JournalTravel Medicine and Infectious Disease
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009


    • Accelerated vaccination schedule
    • Blood borne hepatitis
    • Enteral viral hepatitis
    • Muslims
    • Pilgrimage
    • Travel


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