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Posted: 1/8/2006 5:49:48 PM EDT
http://news.ft.com/cms/s/68d7d33a-80b4-11da-8f9d-0000779e2340.html

Mecca alert for bird flu threat to hajj pilgrims
By William Wallis in Cairo
Published: January 9 2006 02:00 | Last updated: January 9 2006 02:00

Saudi Arabia has had to contend with the threat of bird flu as well as heightened security fears at the start of this year's hajj pilgrimage, which began yesterday.

Officials in the kingdom have been on high alert after warnings from health experts that the gathering at Mecca, Islam's birthplace, of more than 2m pilgrims from around the Muslim world could provide conditions for a deadly bird flu pandemic.

Saudi officials have spent 25 million riyals ($6.7m, €5.5m, £3.8m) stocking up on Tamiflu, the drug that can reduce the severity of the disease if taken shortly after symptoms emerge. Regional health officials said Saudi Arabia had also tightened screening of pilgrims at ports and airports and ban­ned imported poultry in an attempt to minimise health risks at the ritual gathering, which has proved a vector for past flu epidemics.

Hamad al-Manei, the health minister, said contingency plans had been prepared in the event of an outbreak and the World Health Organisation (WHO) was ready to provide support.

So far the deadly H5N1 strain of avian influenza has killed only people in sustained and direct contact with infected poultry. But experts fear that in certain circumstances it could mutate into a form transmittable from human to human.

Victims of the disease have included three children from Turkey, who died last week, providing the latest evidence of the disease's progression from Asia to the fringes of Europe. In the past, however, stampede rather than disease has proved a greater threat at the annual hajj, which able-bodied Muslims are expected to carry out at least once in their lifetime.

Security has also been an issue following a bombing in 1989 and clashes between Iranian Shia pilgrims and Saudi security forces in 1987 in which 400 people died.

Signs of sectarian and regional tensions emerged yesterday with Iraq's outgoing prime minister, Ibrahim Jaafari, accusing Saudi auth­orities of barring thousands of Iraqis from the pilgrimage. The Saudi authorities reacted angrily, with the pilgrimage ministry accusing Mr Jafaari's Shia-led government of favouring Shia over Sunni Muslims in the allocation of places on the hajj.

The numbers of pilgrims arriving in Saudi Arabia this year have been kept slightly lower because of security concerns. Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz, the interior minister, said a record 60,000 soldiers had been deployed to police the pilgrimage.

The Saudi authorities have also used at least 1.3bn riyals from this year's record oil revenues to improve infrastructure for pilgrims.
Link Posted: 1/8/2006 5:53:12 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/8/2006 5:54:59 PM EDT by blacklisted]
The festering hole known as Mecca is the ideal place for a virus to spread, with all the close contact and likely poor sanitary conditions. Luckily, there will not be any pigs around for the virus to swap genes with. I hope the Saudis have plans for controlling epidemics during the pilgrimage.
Link Posted: 1/8/2006 5:57:44 PM EDT
I hope to see some AIDS, Hep, ebola, and malaria thrown into the mix, if possible.


I'd include some kind of warts on that list, but their women have that covered already.


- BG
Link Posted: 1/8/2006 5:59:24 PM EDT

Originally Posted By BUCC_Guy:
I hope to see some AIDS, Hep, ebola, and malaria thrown into the mix, if possible.


I'd include some kind of warts on that list, but their women have that covered already.


- BG


Link Posted: 1/8/2006 6:09:15 PM EDT
There may be a useful benefit to this bird flu after all.
Link Posted: 1/8/2006 6:14:11 PM EDT

Originally Posted By BUCC_Guy:
I hope to see some AIDS, Hep, ebola, and malaria thrown into the mix, if possible.



Sweet Jeebus! Get a clue you people. I'm all for thinning the population as well, but there will be Americans going on pilgrimage, and they will be returning before showing signs of the flu, if they do indeed get it.

Man, I know I'm bad at chess, but dammit guys, think a few steps ahead.

Link Posted: 1/8/2006 6:44:26 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Flakchak:

Originally Posted By BUCC_Guy:
I hope to see some AIDS, Hep, ebola, and malaria thrown into the mix, if possible.



Sweet Jeebus! Get a clue you people. I'm all for thinning the population as well, but there will be Americans going on pilgrimage, and they will be returning before showing signs of the flu, if they do indeed get it.

Man, I know I'm bad at chess, but dammit guys, think a few steps ahead.




That is why you need to create a quick version of the birdflu. You can call it "Super Bug"

<­BR>


Link Posted: 1/8/2006 6:54:28 PM EDT
Yes.... The Superbug can do ANYTHING!



-K
Link Posted: 1/8/2006 6:56:39 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/8/2006 6:59:46 PM EDT by thedoctors308]
Before some of you pop boners over the idea of thousands of muslims dropping dead...remember it is on its way here...to us.
Start stocking up on guns, ammo, food, water, gasoline, and silver.

ETA: just read the whole thread title.
hajj pilgrims is kind of redundant.
Link Posted: 1/8/2006 6:59:11 PM EDT
Close our fucking border now! Now that they have left we can keep them out!!

Link Posted: 1/8/2006 7:00:11 PM EDT
ALLAHS WILL IS A BITCH AINT IT?
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