Via The Independent: World Cup 2014: Brazil 'must act to prevent outbreak of dengue fever' during football tournament this summer, expert says. Excerpt:
Most World Cups have their peculiar, defining feature – “Nessun dorma” at Italia 1990; vuvuzelas in South Africa 2010. But what are the chances that Brazil 2014 will be remembered – somewhat less fondly – as the dengue fever World Cup?
Dengue, an infection spread by mosquitoes, “could be a significant problem” in some of the host cities, a leading British expert has warned, amid growing evidence that the disease is “on the march” around the world.
Brazil saw well over a million cases last year and the global tally now totals, by some estimates, around 400 million annually. The disease causes severe headaches and aching in the bones and joints, which can get so bad it has earned the sobriquet “breakbone fever”. Around a quarter of victims become very unwell and in a small proportion of cases it can be fatal.
Although the World Cup is being held at a time of year when the dengue risk is low for most parts of Brazil, for three host cities in the north east – Fortaleza, Salvador and Natal – it will be close to its peak, said Professor Simon Hay, an epidemiologist at the University of Oxford, who raised the alarm in the journal Nature at the end of last year.
“Dengue is on the march,” he told The Independent. “People tend to know about malaria – most people know that if you go to a tropical country you should take malaria pills. I don’t think most people know about dengue. It’s a horrible disease if you get it.”
The mosquito species which spreads dengue, Aedes aegypti, is easily identifiable by its white spots. It is a prodigiously successful breeder and thrives in urban areas, where it can breed in stagnant water – anything from a discarded coke can gathering rainwater to a blocked gutter.
Clearing potential breeding sites in host cities will be crucial, Professor Hay said, adding that fogging – the use of aerosol insecticides – should begin in April and May.