Dengue Risk May Be an Issue at World Cup

World Cup in Brazil faces dengue fever risks according to study of weather and this mosquito borne virus

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

(RxWiki News) People from around the world will be flocking to Brazil this summer for the World Cup. But a new study has warned that soccer fans should be aware of the mosquito-borne illness dengue fever.

This new study analyzed weather forecasts and dengue fever data to determine risk levels for various Brazilian cities during June 2014.

The study found that three northeastern Brazilian cities are at a high risk for dengue during the upcoming World Cup.

"Use screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitos out."

"With more than a million spectators expected to travel among 12 different cities in Brazil during the football World Cup, June 12—July 13, 2014, the risk of the mosquito-transmitted disease dengue fever is a concern," explained the authors of this new study, led by Rachel Lowe, PhD, of the Institut Català de Ciències del Clima in Barcelona, Spain.

Dengue is a virus that is spread to humans through bites from infected mosquitos. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the disease can cause symptoms like high fever, severe headache and joint pain, but in some cases, a more severe reaction called dengue hemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal, can occur.

CDC noted that while dengue is rarely an issue in the continental US, it is a big problem in tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

Dr. Lowe and team aimed to analyze the risk for dengue outbreaks during the upcoming World Cup event. To do so, they used forecasts for weather, which can play a role in the spread of dengue, from a number of international sources and data on dengue in Brazil from the nation's Ministry of Health. Data on dengue from the years 2000 to 2013 were also used.

After analyzing the data, the researchers found different risk levels for different Brazilian cities hosting World Cup events.

The risk level was determined using a scale used by the Brazilian Ministry of Health. In this scale, a rate of dengue of fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 people is considered low risk, between 100 and 300 cases per 100,000 people is considered medium risk, and over 300 cases per 100,000 people is considered high risk.

The cities of Brasília, Cuiabá, Curitiba, Porto Alegre and São Paulo were determined to have a low dengue risk. The cities of Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Salvador and Manaus were found to have a medium risk.

Three cities in Brazil's northeast — Recife, Fortaleza and Natal — were found to have a high dengue risk for June 2014.

"This timely dengue early warning permits the Ministry of Health and local authorities to implement appropriate, city-specific mitigation and control actions ahead of the World Cup," wrote Dr. Lowe and team.

CDC stressed the importance of preventing mosquito bites when traveling to regions where dengue is an issue.

"To protect yourself, use repellent on your skin while indoors or out. When possible, wear long sleeves and pants for additional protection," said CDC.

It is important to note that this study aimed to estimate the future risk of dengue, and there may be some error in the estimations.

The study was published online May 17 by The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Funding for the study was provided by a variety of organizations, including the European Commission's Seventh Framework Research Programme projects and the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
May 20, 2014
Last Updated:
May 20, 2014