As I sit here at the tail end of a week of misery from the flu, I ran across this and thought it couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of folks...
Pandemic threat in Mecca pilgrim crush
MUSLIMS about to travel to Saudi Arabia for the hajj pilgrimage risk sparking a devastating global influenza pandemic because too few of the worshippers are being vaccinated before they go.
Experts have urged flu vaccination to be made mandatory for worshippers embarking on the pilgrimage, a trip expected of every Muslim who can afford it at least once in their lifetime.
The next hajj starts on December 28 and lasts for seven days. Between two and three million pilgrims from all over the world are expected to descend on Mecca and other holy sites, staying in overcrowded conditions.
In terms of public health, "such a gathering makes the possible rampant spread of the influenza virus and a global pandemic ... a potentially devastating prospect", say experts writing in the latest British Medical Journal.
The crush of people means it as "not unusual for 50-100 people to share a tent overnight" in desert camps, a degree of overcrowding that "greatly increases the spread of respiratory infections".
Forget about that big screen HDTV I wrote to you earlier about, I found a present I want more....