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Virologica Sinica, 31 (1) : 89-93, 2016
Letter
Camel exposure and knowledge about MERS-CoV among Australian Hajj pilgrims in 2014
1. National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance of
Vaccine Preventable Diseases (NCIRS), The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, and the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health,
Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW
2145, Australia
2. School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney,
NSW 2006, Australia
3. School of Public Health and Community Medicine, The
University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2033, Australia
4. Health Informatics Department, College of Health Sciences,
Saudi Electronic University, Riyadh 11461, Saudi Arabia
5. Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity,
School of Biological Sciences and Sydney Medical School,
University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2145, Australia
6. WHO Collaborating Centre for Mass Gatherings and High
Consequence/High Visibility Events, Flinders University,
Adelaide 5001, Australia
 Correspondence: amani.alqahtani@health.nsw.gov.au
(314.33KB)  
Abstract
In this study, the authors evaluated Australian pilgrims’ knowledge and perceptions regarding the risk of MERS-CoV and camel contact at Hajj. Moreover, the authors assessed their practice regarding contact with camels during Hajj. This is the first study which has assessed the actual practice of the pilgrims’ contact with camels during Hajj. This study involved two cross-sectional surveys among Australian pilgrims aged ≥ 18 years, before and after Hajj in 2014. The first survey was conducted 1 month before Hajj among departing pilgrims. Participants were met at weekly pre-Hajj seminars run by travel agents and were invited to take part in the survey. The second survey was conducted immediately after the pilgrims’ return to Australia (post-Hajj study). Participants were recruited in selected Muslim suburbs during community gatherings in mosques or Islamic centres. In conclusion, many Australian Hajj pilgrims are not aware of MERS-CoV in Saudi Arabia, and some of them engage in activities that may put them at risk of MERS-CoV; therefore, there is a need for improved awareness among Hajj pilgrims and other travelers to the Middle East regarding MERS-CoV.
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Received: 16 Oct 2015  Accepted: 29 Dec 2015  Published online: 18 Jan 2016
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