Via The Globe and Mail: International travellers to Brazil World Cup threaten to bring companion: measles. Excerpt:
It is hailed as the world’s biggest sporting event, with hundreds of thousands of people making the pilgrimage every four years so they can sit in close company, sing songs, rattle their caxirolas and cheer for their country’s finest soccer players.
Such is the essence of the FIFA World Cup. It is as much a celebration of sport as it is a reason to party.
But for the tournament in Brazil that starts in June, a hazard lies in wait, and it has to do with all those visitors and what they could be bringing with them – the infectious measles virus.
As the airborne disease continues its global tour, Brazilian organizers and international health officials have been preparing for the worst. They know the conditions are ripe for an outbreak of disastrous proportions.
Here is why: Until recently, Brazil had one of the strongest immunization rates on the planet. It went years without recording a single case of measles. In 2012, it had two. But last year, the Brazilian ministry of health noted 201 cases. Through January and February of this year, the count was 74 and continues to go up.
Added to that is the spread of the disease from the Philippines and the Netherlands to Canada, the United States and other nations. Of the 32 countries competing in this World Cup, 26 have reported having measles. Toss in an expected 600,000 visitors headed to the tournament’s 12 cities and what you have is a stick of dynamite in search of a spark.
“If Brazil has a good enough immunization system and high enough coverage to prevent a spread of measles then even if cases are imported it should not cause major outbreaks,” said Natasha Crowcroft, Public Health Ontario’s chief of infectious diseases. “But it’s a real test of whether they have a good system.”