Original Research

Respiratory infections due to Streptococcus pneumoniae and the influenza virus in South Africans undertaking the Hajj

Salim Parker, Anwar A. Hoosen, Charles Feldman, Amgad Gamil, Jerusha Naidoo, Shameema Khan
Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases | Vol 33, No 5 | a137 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajid.v33i5.137 | © 2019 Salim Parker, Anwar A. Hoosen, Charles Feldman, Amgad Gamil, Jerusha Naidoo, Shameema Khan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 May 2019 | Published: 06 August 2018

About the author(s)

Salim Parker, Dee Bee Centre, Elsies River, South Africa
Anwar A. Hoosen, Department of Medical Microbiology, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein; Microbiology Laboratory, Universitas Academic Laboratory, National Health Laboratory Service, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Charles Feldman, Division of Pulmonology, Department of Internal Medicine, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Amgad Gamil, Pfizer Global Medical Development and Scientific/Clinical Affairs, Vaccines, Pfizer Inc, Dubai,, United Arab Emirates
Jerusha Naidoo, Pfizer Global Medical Development and Scientific/Clinical Affairs, Vaccines, Pfizer Inc, Johannesburg,, South Africa
Shameema Khan, Ampath, Westridge, Durban, South Africa

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Abstract

The Hajj is the largest annual mass gathering on Earth. Respiratory infections are one of the leading causes of disease and hospitalisation during the pilgrimage, with pneumonia and influenza most common among these infections despite the availability of prophylactic vaccines. In fact, immunisation against influenza and pneumococcal disease is currently not a requirement for South African pilgrims entering Saudi Arabia. This review examines the burden of respiratory infections during the Hajj, particularly pneumonia and influenza, with a focus on pilgrims from South Africa. Although the number of South African pilgrims attending the Hajj has been capped at 2 000 since 2013, > 30 000 South Africans perform the minor Umrah pilgrimage annually. Understanding the aetiology of disease in this group could have implications for medical resourcing during the Hajj.

Keywords

Hajj; influenza virus; pilgrims; pneumonia; respiratory infection; Streptococcus pneumoniae; South Africa

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