PG NewsPG delivery
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Home Page
PG News: Nation and World, Region and State, Neighborhoods, Business, Sports, Health and Science, Magazine, Forum
Sports: Headlines, Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, Collegiate, Scholastic
Lifestyle: Columnists, Food, Homes, Restaurants, Gardening, Travel, SEEN, Consumer, Pets
Arts and Entertainment: Movies, TV, Music, Books, Crossword, Lottery
Photo Journal: Post-Gazette photos
AP Wire: News and sports from the Associated Press
Business: Business: Business and Technology News, Personal Business, Consumer, Interact, Stock Quotes, PG Benchmarks, PG on Wheels
Classifieds: Jobs, Real Estate, Automotive, Celebrations and other Post-Gazette Classifieds
Web Extras: Marketplace, Bridal, Headlines by Email, Postcards
Weather: AccuWeather Forecast, Conditions, National Weather, Almanac
Health & Science: Health, Science and Environment
Search: Search by keyword or date
PG Store: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette merchandise
PG Delivery: Home Delivery, Back Copies, Mail Subscriptions


Headlines by E-mail

Headlines Region & State Neighborhoods Business
Sports Health & Science Magazine Forum

Sickness no stranger to hajj pilgrims

Monday, March 22, 1999

By Ervin Dyer, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

For the more than 6 million Muslims who live in the United States and who may make the hajj at some point, the spiritual journey starts with putting the legal and medical paperwork in place to travel overseas.

For American Muslims, traveling to Saudi Arabia requires a visa, a passport and proof of having received the inoculations required of any U.S. citizen going abroad.

Saudi Arabia mandates that travelers to hajj be vaccinated against cholera and meningococcal meningitis to help prevent illness from contaminated food and water sources. The large crowds strain Saudi Arabia's sanitation services.

The Allegheny County Health Department also recommends vaccinations for Hepatitis A, which must be taken at least a month before travel to allow a body's immunity to build up, and a polio booster.

Some physicians also suggest additional vaccinations to protect against typhoid fever, pneumonia, diphtheria/tetanus and malaria.

Spiritual enlightenment and unity aside, getting too close to your brethren at hajj can be sickening.

There are many who get ill, said Walter Shaahid of Garfield, who made the pilgrimage five years ago. People are sneezing and coughing all over the place, he said, adding, "It's easy to catch something."

Extra care is a necessary precaution, but in some unfortunate instances, misery still makes the rounds.

For example, in 1997 there was an outbreak of typhoid in India and it is possible some Indian pilgrims carried the disease into the holy city. Gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses are very common during hajj, doctors say, as the unavoidable closeness of the pilgrims makes infections easy to spread around.

Fatigue and lack of sleep from the physically demanding regimen of hajj rites as well as the overenthusiastic exertions in prayers and devotions, can lower immunity and resistance, making pilgrims more vulnerable to disease. Getting and staying in good physical shape by regular exercise can ward off getting ill.

bottom navigation bar Terms of Use  Privacy Policy