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Cross‐sectional survey and surveillance for influenza viruses and MERS‐CoV among Egyptian pilgrims returning from Hajj during 2012‐2015
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  • Alternative Title:
    Influenza Other Respir Viruses
  • Description:
    Background Approximately 80 000 Egyptians participate in Hajj pilgrimage annually. The purpose of this study was to estimate influenza virus and MERS‐CoV prevalence among Egyptian pilgrims returning from Hajj. Study A cross‐sectional survey among 3 364 returning Egyptian pilgrims from 2012 to 2015 was conducted. Nasopharyngeal (NP) and oropharyngeal (OP) swabs were collected from all participants. Sputum specimens were collected from participants with respiratory symptoms and productive cough at the time of their interview. Specimens were tested for influenza viruses, and a convenience sample of NP/OP specimens was tested for MERS‐CoV. Thirty percent of participants met the case definition for influenza‐like illness (ILI), 14% tested positive for influenza viruses, and none tested positive for MERS‐CoV. Self‐reported influenza vaccination was 20%. Conclusions High prevalence of reported ILI during pilgrimage and confirmed influenza virus on return from pilgrimage suggest a continued need for influenza prevention strategies for Egyptian Hajj pilgrims. An evaluation of the Ministry of Health and Population's current risk communication campaigns to increase influenza vaccine use among pilgrims may help identify strategies to improve vaccine coverage.
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