DEARBORN (AP) Muslims preparing to make pilgrimages to Mecca, Saudi Arabia next month are being encouraged to take meningitis vaccinations.

Last year, at least 70 Muslims who visited Mecca died of the W-135 meningitis strain. Six cases of the strain were reported in the United States.

Saudi Arabia requires all people entering the country to be vaccinated against meningitis, but the United States is the only country to vaccinate against the W-135 strain.

“The vaccine doesn”t mean you won”t get it,” said Dr. Leila Haddad, who works at the clinic of Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services. “But if you do, it will be mild.”

Thousands of Muslims make the pilgrimage, called hajj, every year. Muslims are required to make the journey to Mecca once in their lives.

“The trip to Mecca is the dream of every Muslim,” Dr. Amam Abdelrahman told The Detroit News for a story yesterday. “Anytime you put 2 million people in a small city or small place you should expect (meningitis).

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