Molecular and genomic characterization of enteric pathogens circulating during Hajj

Molecular and genomic characterization of enteric pathogens circulating during Hajj

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Hajj is the largest, most diverse mass gathering of people in the world. It attracts more than 2ยท5 million pilgrims from more than 160 countries all over the world who visit Mecca in Saudi Arabia every year. The pilgrims perform the same activities at the same time in a limited area of land. The population density that can reach up to seven people per square meter and the nature of the performed activities amplify potential health risks.

In collaboration with the Saudi MoH, we are conducting a pilot study to identify and characterize the enteric pathogens that predominate during Hajj. The objectives of the study are: (1) To identify the etiology of diarrheal infections during Hajj, (2) To investigate the variations in the distribution of enteric pathogens, clonal types and antimicrobial resistance, (3) To detect the emergence of new variants and (4) To develop an optimized protocol for the usage of WGS in the diagnosis of enteric infections during mass gatherings.