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Brazil World Cup: Experts issue dengue fever high alert for three cities

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The dengue fever outbreak risk in time for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil already warranted a high alert in some of the country's host cities.

According to an early warning analysis, the risk of a mosquito-borne disease outbreak is high in three host venues: Fortaleza, Recife and Natal. Brazil has the most number of dengue fever cases in the world, recording over seven million infections from 2000 to 2013.

It is expected that hundreds of thousands will attend the 2014 World Cup this June and authorities are concerned about a possible dengue outbreak during the event. The Mosquito-borne infection is more common following the rainy season and in Brazil, rainy season is in March to May. Like malaria, the mosquitoes reproduce in stagnant water and bite mostly in the early morning or late afternoon.

"The possibility of a large dengue fever outbreak during the World Cup, capable of infecting visitors and spreading dengue back to their country of origin, depends on a combination of many factors, including large numbers of mosquitoes, a susceptible population, and a high rate of mosquito-human contact," lead author of the study Dr. Rachel Lowe of the Catalan Institute of Climate Sciences in Spain said. She said that though the concerns about the virus made dramatic headlines, the estimates were only based on averages of dengue cases in the past.

In Brazil, dengue fever is more widespread than malaria. The endemic infection rate is already alarming and the virus could even increase during the FIFA World Cup. The authorities aim to provide an early dengue epidemic warning at a microregion level and three month ahead. This effort would be invaluable in containing and reducing the epidemic and will provide local officials enough time to combat mosquito-prone populations in the cities with a bigger chance of dengue fever outbreaks.

Dengue is a viral infection through a mosquito type called Aedes aegypti. It is also known as "breakbone fever" because it causes severe pain. The disease ranges from a flu-like, mild illness to a fatal one which occurs to about five percent of dengue patients. Currently, there are no effective treatment or vaccines against the virus.

The results of the study appears on The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

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