World Cup Health Issues Highlighted

Brazil World Cup attendees may be exposed to health risks like dengue fever among others

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Global travelers will soon descend upon Brazil, first for this summer's World Cup, then again for the 2016 Summer Olympics. A new report examined health risks for these travelers.

The report, led by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), identified a number of health concerns, including mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue fever, gastrointestinal troubles and skin conditions.

The researchers recommended that travelers visit their doctor at least a month before their trip to discuss health concerns and potential vaccines that may be needed.

"Talk with your doctor before major travel to help stay healthy while on the road."

According to the authors of this new report, led by Joanna Gaines, PhD, MPH, of the CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, in Atlanta, Georgia, "Travelers to these mass gathering events may be exposed to a range of health risks, including a variety of infectious diseases."

To more closely examine and identify these risks, Dr. Gaines and team performed a review of scientific and governmental literature, looking for materials covering health issues tied to mass gatherings and Brazil. They found several topics that travelers should consider.

"Diseases prevented by routine vaccination are prevalent in Brazil," wrote the study authors, who suggested travelers make sure they are up-to-date on routine vaccinations, like those for seasonal influenza, measles-mumps-rubella and varicella (chickenpox).

Other infectious disease that travelers should consider vaccines for are hepatitis A and B, typhoid fever and yellow fever.

Additionally, travelers should be aware of and educated on the infectious diseases of dengue and malaria — both spread by mosquitos — and take steps to prevent insect bites.

Stomach issues, caused by a variety of factors, including pathogens like Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Giardia may also be an issue. Dr. Gaines and team noted that their analysis found one review of travelers to Brazil between the years of 1997 and 2013 in which 34 percent of all illnesses were tied to gastrointestinal troubles.

To protect against these illnesses, the researchers recommended frequent hand washing and taking certain food and water precautions.

"Travelers should avoid raw foods, such as salads, unpeeled fruits, or uncooked vegetables," wrote Dr. Gaines and team. "Tap water may contain viruses, bacteria, or parasites and may be unsafe for drinking, preparing food, or for making ice."

A number of dermatologic, or skin-related, issues should also be considered by travelers to Brazil. The researchers recommended using sunscreen with a UV protection factor of at least 30 and learning how to spot signs of bed bugs.

Taking precautions and being informed can help travelers stay safe and healthy as they enjoy the upcoming events in Brazil.

"Travelers should consult a health care practitioner 4 to 6 weeks before travel to Brazil and seek up-to-date information regarding their specific itineraries," suggested Dr. Gaines and team.

This study was published online June 2 in JAMA Internal Medicine. No conflicts of interest were reported.

The report noted that the conclusions found by Dr. Gaines and team do not necessarily reflect CDC's official position.

Review Date: 
June 4, 2014
Last Updated:
June 4, 2014