Dengue fever threatens at World Cup in Brazil

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Expert warns of dengue risk at World Cup in Brazil

More than three million tickets for the 2014 World Cup are to be sold. If you only want to get infected with soccer fever in Brazil next year, but not with dengue fever, you should protect yourself. A British researcher warns of a high risk of infection, particularly for three venues.

Warning above all for three venues On June 12, 2014 the time has come for the 20th Football World Cup to start in Brazil. In total, more than three million tickets are to be sold and over 500,000 international fans are expected. Those traveling to the South American country during the meantime should ensure that they are adequately protected from dengue fever, such as long clothing, sheltered windows and bug spray. For Brazil and especially for the three venues Fortaleza, Natal and Salvador there is an increased risk of infection. This is pointed out by a British researcher from Oxford University in the science journal "Nature".

High point during the games The epidemiology professor Simon Hay wrote in the opinion that the risk of infection in the three cities, which are all located in the north-east of the country, is likely to peak when the games are played. Based on the cases of illness in recent years, the researcher and his colleagues had assessed the risk of infection for the various Brazilian regions. As a result, the peak of the dengue spread in most host cities will already be reached before the World Cup. According to Hay, this does not apply to the northeast. However, he points out that, like the weather, this situation cannot be predicted exactly.

Avoiding mosquito bites In its annual report, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are 50 to 100 million diseases worldwide each year. Hay estimates that there are three times as many. Dengue fever is transmitted by mosquitoes and manifests itself in symptoms such as fever, rash, severe headache, muscle and joint pain and can lead to death. To date, there is no effective vaccine and no specific medication for dengue fever. According to Hay, the best measure is to avoid mosquito bites. Therefore, the researcher advises all fans who will travel to the risk areas next year to choose hotels with protected doors and windows and air conditioning. You should also wear long clothes, especially in the early morning and late afternoon, and protect yourself with special anti-mosquito sprays.

Researchers appeal to those in charge of the World Cup The British professor also calls on the authorities to smoke out mosquitoes in the particularly hard-hit areas and to make reproduction difficult for them. As the mosquitoes multiply in standing water, Hay points out that pools, including wild rubbish dumps, should be removed. He also appeals to the Brazilian government, the World Football Association (FIFA) and sponsors of the competition to inform fans about the risk of dengue and preventive measures. In contrast to the inhabitants of tropical areas, many visitors, including those from Europe, were not familiar with the disease. Therefore, those responsible should use their experience and influence to educate.

Over 500 deaths in Brazil The main carrier of dengue fever is the mosquito Stegomyia aegypti, which is widespread in humid, tropical areas. It can also carry the virus from person to person. According to the Pan-American Health Organization, 522 people have already died of dengue in Brazil this year. Central America is also currently suffering from a severe epidemic and there have been numerous deaths in Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The virus is rampant in more than 100 countries worldwide. The course of the disease is often harmless and tropical doctors assume that the disease is not recognized by many vacationers returning. However, it could also lead to a severe, fatal course of the disease with numerous bleeding and circulatory failure. This mainly affects children who live in the affected areas and people with repeated infections.

Number of infected people increased dramatically In 2012, a total of 615 cases of dengue fever were reported to the German Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The number is comparatively small if you consider that around three million Germans travel to potential risk areas annually. But the number of people with dengue fever has “increased dramatically worldwide in the past few decades”, according to the UN World Health Statistics 2013. The RKI has already reported over 700 patients this year, all of whom were infected abroad, the majority of them in Thailand. If you want to find out about the current dengue risk in a certain tropical region, you can use the so-called "Healthmap". It is a project by the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) and a team from Boston Children's Hospital that collect data on dengue outbreaks worldwide and make them freely available on the Internet. (ad)

Image: Stefan Klaffehn /

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Video: Brazil on alert over epidemic rates of dengue fever

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