TORONTO, Sept. 10, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - This October, thousands of
Canadian Muslims will be embarking on one of the greatest religious
observances in Islam, the Hajj and Umrah. Requiring months of mental,
physical and spiritual preparation, pilgrims need to also remember the
medical preparation required to start this journey.
The Hajj and Umrah is the Muslim ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca, a city
located in Saudi Arabia. It is an annual religious ceremony that has
been occurring for more than 14 centuries which takes place this year
between October 24 and October 29. This Muslim ritual of pilgrimage to
Mecca, Saudi Arabia, has been occurring for more than 14 centuries, and
is an important part of the Muslim faith.
To ensure smooth entry into Saudi Arabia, Hajj pilgrims and Umrah
visitors from all over the world are required to have a certificate
proving that they were vaccinated against all four vaccine preventable
strains of meningococcal meningitis not more than three years and not
less than ten days before arriving in Saudi Arabia.
Meningitis is also common in densely populated areas, and vaccination is
recommended for anyone travelling extensively or on long-term working
assignments in the meningitis belt of Africa's northern Savannah and in
other densely populated areas such as India and China.
"Meningitis can be transmitted by coughing, sneezing, sharing drinking
glasses or eating utensils and can be deadly or lead to severe
complications such as hearing loss, neurological damage, paralysis or
limb loss," says Dr. Vivien Brown, Vice President, Medisys Health
Group. "In large group settings like the Hajj or Umrah where over two
million pilgrims can be present at a time, it is important to reduce
the risks of infection by prevention, through vaccination."
Symptoms of bacterial meningitis can often be confused with a cold or
common flu, yet it kills one in 10 of those infected, typically within
the first 24 to 48 hours. The only way to prevent meningitis is through
Following the Hajj in April 2000, an outbreak of meningitis occurred in
Saudi Arabia infecting 225 people and taking the lives of 57. Since
then, vaccination against meningococcal meningitis with a quadrivalent
vaccine such as MENACTRA® to protect against serogroups A, C, Y and W135 has been mandatory for
all pilgrims over the age of two making the journey to the Saudi
"Even if you have been vaccinated against meningococcal disease strain
C, you are still vulnerable to other strains that are prevalent both
inside and outside of Canada. Conjugated quadrivalent vaccines such as
MENACTRA® can still be used in people who have already been vaccinated against
strain C," states Brown.
Sanofi Pasteur recognizes the specific needs of Canadian travelers and
has developed a customized brochure for pilgrims travelling to the Hajj
and Umrah. The new brochures have been distributed to travel agencies
across Canada specializing in these pilgrimages. Travel agencies can
contact Sanofi Pasteur Customer Service to obtain copies.
About MENACTRA® vaccine
Sanofi Pasteur is a leading manufacturer of travel vaccines such as
MENACTRA®. MENACTRA® vaccine is indicated for active immunization for the prevention of
invasive meningococcal disease caused by N. meningitidis serogroups A,
C, Y and W-135 in persons 2 to 55 years of age. MENACTRA® vaccine has over 6 years of real-world experience and over 40 million
doses have been distributed worldwide.
To learn more about MENACTRA® vaccine, visit www.menactra.ca.
Sanofi, a global and diversified healthcare leader, discovers, develops
and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients' needs.
Sanofi has core strengths in the field of healthcare with seven growth
platforms: diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs,
consumer healthcare, emerging markets, animal health and the new
Genzyme. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York
Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, provides more than 1
billion doses of vaccine each year, making it possible to immunize more
than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine
industry, Sanofi Pasteur offers the broadest range of vaccines
protecting against 20 infectious diseases. The company's heritage, to
create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century.
Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines.
Every day, the company invests more than EUR 1 million in research and
development. For more information, please visit: www.sanofipasteur.com or www.sanofipasteur.us
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