Environmental sampling for respiratory pathogens in Jeddah airport during the 2013 Hajj season

Ziad A. Memish, Malak Almasri, Abdullah Assirri, Ali M. Al-Shangiti, Gregory C. Gray, John A. Lednicky, Saber Yezli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Respiratory tract infections (RTIs) are common during the Hajj season and are caused by a variety of organisms, which can be transmitted via the air or contaminated surfaces. We conducted a study aimed at sampling the environment in the King Abdul Aziz International (KAAI) Airport, Pilgrims City, Jeddah, during Hajj season to detect respiratory pathogens. Methods: Active air sampling was conducted using air biosamplers, and swabs were used to sample frequently touched surfaces. A respiratory multiplex array was used to detect bacterial and viral respiratory pathogens. Results: Of the 58 environmental samples, 8 were positive for at least 1 pathogen. One air sample (1 of 18 samples, 5.5%) tested positive for influenza B virus. Of the 40 surface samples, 7 (17.5%) were positive for pathogens. These were human adenovirus (3 out of 7, 42.8%), human coronavirus OC43/HKU1 (3 out of 7, 42.8%), Haemophilus influenzae (1 out of 7, 14.2%), and Moraxella catarrhalis (1 out of 7, 14.2%). Chair handles were the most commonly contaminated surfaces. The handles of 1 chair were cocontaminated with coronavirus OC43/HKU1 and H influenzae. Conclusion: Respiratory pathogens were detected in the air and on surfaces in the KAAI Airport in Pilgrims City. Larger-scale studies based on our study are warranted to determine the role of the environment in transmission of respiratory pathogens during mass gathering events (eg, Hajj) such that public health preventative measures might be better targeted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1266-1269
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Infection Control
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Coronavirus
  • Environmental sampling
  • Haemophilus influenza
  • Hajj
  • Influenza
  • Respiratory pathogens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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