Evaluation of aerial microbial pollutants in Al-Haram Al-Nabawi during pilgrimage of 2013by Kholoud M. Alananbeh, Nahla Boquellah, Nadia Al Kaff, Majid Al Ahmadi

Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences


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Accepted Manuscript

Original article

Evaluation of aerial microbial pollutants in Al-Haram Al-Nabawi during pilgrimage of 2013

Kholoud M. Alananbeh, Nahla A. Bouqellah, Nadia Al Kaff, Majid Al Ahmadi

PII: S1319-562X(15)00179-5

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sjbs.2015.08.003

Reference: SJBS 522

To appear in: Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences

Received Date: 2 April 2015

Revised Date: 30 June 2015

Accepted Date: 3 August 2015

Please cite this article as: K.M. Alananbeh, N.A. Bouqellah, N.A. Kaff, M.A. Ahmadi, Evaluation of aerial microbial pollutants in Al-Haram Al-Nabawi during pilgrimage of 2013, Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences (2015), doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sjbs.2015.08.003

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Evaluation of aerial microbial pollutants in Al-Haram Al-Nabawi during pilgrimage of 2013

Kholoud M. Alananbeh 1*, Nahla A. Bouqellah1, Nadia Al Kaff1, Majid Al Ahmadi2 1Biology Department, Faculty of Science, Taibah University,

Al Madinah Al Munawwarah, Saudi Arabia 2Ohud Hospital, Al Madinah Al Munawwarah, Saudi Arabia * Corresponding author

Biology Department, Faculty of Science, Building 21B-Room Sb27

Taibah University, Madinah, KSA

Email address: kholoudennab@gmail.com

Tel.: +966550040471 2


The number of microorganisms accounts the highest if compared to other organisms in any ecosystem (Al-Sarrany et al., 2003). Microorganisms are found all around us; in air, soil, and water.

Air is composed of a mixture of gases, water vapor, microbes, and other solid substances. It also contains number of other contaminants including natural (microbial) (Al-Sarrany and Al-Turk, 1997), radiation (Al-Ghorabie, 2005), and chemical (Al-Jeelani, 2009). However, microbes are considered one of the most important contaminants, which get more interest day after day due to the increase of human population density from one hand and the deterioration of the immunity system from another hand (Kawther, 2002).

The sources of aerosols microbes are soil surface through winds, coughing, sneezing, plants, and water (Dowd and Maier, 1999). Air is not considered a natural habitat for growth and reproduction of microbes, it is only a carrier. Number of microbes in air varies according to the surrounded environmental conditions and the amount of dust rose to air.

The interest of studying aerial microbial pollutants started in Paris 1899. After that, many studies were conducted in many other countries to estimate and identify the aerial microbes (Al-Suwaine et al., 1999; Roure and Ramirez, 1970).

Al Madinah Al Munawwarah is the second holiest site in Islam. All visitors to

Makkah (either during Pilgrimage or during Umrah) visit this city because it has Al

Masjid Al Nabawi, where the tomb of their prophet is located. According to the

Central Department of Statistics and Information (CDSI) of Saudi Arabia, millions of visitors enter the country each year, thus, Al Masjid Al Nabawi area became crowded mainly during Pilgrimage and Ramadan, the fasting holy month. The visitors come from all over the world, and transcontinental movement of disease or diseases vectors becomes possible.

Recent studies conducted to study air pollutants of different gases in the crowded areas such as Mekkah and Jeddah during Pilgrimage time (Al-Jeelani, 2009;

Al-Jeelani, 2013; Al-Ahmadi and Al-Zahrani, 2013) and correlate the pollutants with certain diseases such as cancer (Al-Ahmadi and Al-Zahrani, 2013). Other but few studies concentrated on studying the microbial pollution in the two Harams in KSA.

In 1997, Al-Sarrani and Al-Turk studied the aerial microbial pollutants in Al-Haram

Al-Nabawi and the surrounding area during pilgrimage period for five consecutive 3 weeks. Their study concluded that the numbers of fungal and bacterial colonies vary according to the locations (three random ones) of sampling, the component of the media used, and the time of sampling. Moreover, they identified the collected fungal and bacterial isolates using the morphological and biochemical tests.

In other studies conducted in Al-Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah, the fungal and bacterial pollutants were estimated and identified (Al-Falih and Qahtani, 1998 (cited by Abdul Hameed and Habeeballah, 2013); Kawther, 2002). Bacterial colony numbers found to be higher than those of fungal colonies. It was ranged between 33320 for bacteria and between 7-122 for fungi (Al-Falih and Qahtani, 1998 (cited by

Abdul Hameed and Habeeballah, 2013)). In another study by Kawther (2002) the aerial microbial pollutants in Makkah during Ramdan, the fasting month of 1419 H, was estimated. In this study, many bacterial isolates were identified and the total bacterial CFU ranged between 42-285. On the other hand, a recent publication of

Abdul Hameed and Habeeballah (2013) studied in details the airborne microbial contamination of the holy mosque (Al-Haram mosque) by the gravitational method.

Their study found significant differences in the bacterial CFU concentrations between directions, and most of the collected bacteria were belonging to gram-positive bacteria. For fungi, Aspergillus was the predominant fungal genera. They also concluded that the microbial concentrations are more influenced by human activities rather than the meteorological factors.

The possibility of new-emerging microbes is valid due to the increased number of pilgrims during the last 15 years since Al-Sarrani and Al-Turk study (1997). The objectives of the current study were to (i) estimate the numbers of fungi and bacteria inside and outside Al-Haram Al-Nabawi by using different types of media, and confirm the identity of these fungi by using molecular techniques, and (ii) to find whether new bacterial and fungal species have emerged compared to AlSarrani and Al-Turk study (1997).