Reuters–The risk of an outbreak of dengue fever during the upcoming soccer World Cup in Brazil is serious enough to warrant a high alert in three of the 12 host cities, according to an early warning system for the disease.
Scientists who developed the system said the overall threat of the disease during the month-long competition was low, but they warned that the northeastern venues of Natal, Fortaleza and Recifethere faced a serious risk.
Dengue, sometimes called breakbone fever because of the severe pain it can cause, is a viral infection transmitted by a type of mosquitoe called Aedes aegypti. It can range from a mild, flu-like illness to a potentially deadly one, which develops in around 5 percent of patients. There are no vaccines or effective treatments.
Brazil has more cases of dengue fever than anywhere else in the world. More than 7 million infections were recorded between 2000 and 2013.
Rachel Lowe, from the Catalan Institute of Climate Sciences in Barcelona, who helped develop the warning system, said the possibility of an outbreak during the World Cup large enough to infect visitors and spread back to their home countries will depend on a combination of factors.
“Our aim was to take the available evidence on real-time seasonal rainfall and temperature forecasts, transmission dynamics, and social and environmental variables and combine it with the latest in mapping and mathematical modelling to produce robust risk estimates for the 12 host cities,” she said.