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 mosquito
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
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.
This include having large numbers of mosquitoes, a susceptible
population and a high rate of mosquito-human contact, she said.
"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 modeling to produce robust risk estimates
for the 12 host cities," she said.
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The results, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal on
Saturday, showed the overall risk of an outbreak is low in the host
cities of Brasolia, Cuiaba, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, and Sao Paulo.
But it increases in cities like Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte,
Salvador and Manaus.
The cities with the highest risk are Natal, Fortaleza, and Recife,
"The ability to provide early warnings of dengue epidemics at the
microregion level, three months in advance, is invaluable for
reducing or containing an epidemic and will give local authorities
the time to combat mosquito populations in those cities with a
greater chance of dengue outbreaks," she said.
(Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Larry King)
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