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An epidemic of invasive meningococcal disease occurred in pilgrims returning from the haj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in 2000. The strain of Neisseria meningitidis isolated from these cases was W135: 2a: P1.2, 5, or compatible with that strain. In September 2000, enhanced surveillance for W135: 2a: P1.2, 5 or compatible strains was established in sentinel countries within the European Union surveillance network for invasive meningococcal disease (1, and references therein). Data is reported weekly from the six participating countries’ reference laboratories, and a similar increase in cases of this strain was detected in association with haj 2001. This report summarises all confirmed cases in the period 23 February to 31 May 2002, the period following haj 2002.


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