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Tracking Australian Hajj Pilgrims’ Health Behavior before, during and after Hajj, and the Effective Use of Preventive Measures in Reducing Hajj-Related Illness: A Cohort Study

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National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia
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Sydney School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
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Saudi Food and Drug Authority, Executive Department of Research and Studies, Riyadh 22332, Saudi Arabia
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Discipline of Child and Adolescent Health Children’s Hospital at Westmead Clinical School, the Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2145, Australia
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Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tripoli, Ain Zara 13275, Libya
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School of Public Health and Community Medicine, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
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College of Medicine, Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University (IMSIU), Riyadh 13317, Saudi Arabia
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Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, School of Biological Sciences and Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2145, Australia
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WHO Collaborating Centre for Mass Gatherings and High Consequence/High Visibility Events, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Pharmacy 2020, 8(2), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmacy8020078
Received: 30 March 2020 / Revised: 27 April 2020 / Accepted: 30 April 2020 / Published: 4 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Travel Medicine - Series Ⅱ)
This study assessed Australian Hajj pilgrims’ knowledge, attitude and practices throughout their Hajj journey to understand their health behaviors, use of preventative measures and development of illness symptoms. A prospective cohort study with data collection at three phases (before, during and after Hajj) was conducted among Australian pilgrims between August and December 2015. Baseline data were collected from 421 pilgrims before Hajj, with 391 providing follow-up data during Hajj and 300 after their home return. Most participants (78% [329/421]) received one or more recommended vaccines; travel agents’ advice was the main factor affecting vaccination uptake. Most participants (69% [270/391]) practiced hand hygiene with soap and sanitizers frequently, followed by disposable handkerchief use (36% [139/391]) and washing hands with water only (28% [111/391]). During Hajj 74% (288/391) of participants reported one or more illness symptoms, 86% (248/288) of these symptoms were respiratory. Cough was less often reported among pilgrims who received vaccinations, cleaned their hands with soap or alcoholic hand rubs, while a runny nose was less common among those who frequently washed their hands with plain water but was more common among those who used facemasks. This study reveals that most Australian Hajj pilgrims complied with key preventative measures, and that tour group operators’ advice played an important role in compliance. Pilgrims who were vaccinated and practiced hand hygiene were less likely to report infection symptoms. View Full-Text
Keywords: facemask; Hajj; hand hygiene; health behavior; infectious diseases; mass gathering facemask; Hajj; hand hygiene; health behavior; infectious diseases; mass gathering
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Alqahtani, A.S.; Tashani, M.; Heywood, A.E.; Almohammed, A.B.S.; Booy, R.; Wiley, K.E.; Rashid, H. Tracking Australian Hajj Pilgrims’ Health Behavior before, during and after Hajj, and the Effective Use of Preventive Measures in Reducing Hajj-Related Illness: A Cohort Study. Pharmacy 2020, 8, 78.

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