Next year football fans in Brazil will have more to worry about than tiebreakers and bad calls.
Dengue fever will be near its peak threat when games of the 20th FIFA World Cup are played in three host cities, Simon Hay said in the journal Nature.
Also known as “breakbone fever,” dengue is a nasty virus that causes a high fever, severe headache and pain in joints and muscles. It is transmitted by city-loving mosquito Aedes mosquitoes and thus, is a probably in dense, urban areas.
"Dengue is a persistent threat to Brazilians, as it is to billions of people throughout the tropics," Hay wrote. "It is much less familiar to others, such as Europeans" — and Americans.
To access the risk of dengue at the World Cup next year, Hay and his colleagues analyzed epidemiological records and distribution maps for the virus in Brazil since 2001.
For nine of the cities hosting the World Cup, the records suggest that the main dengue season will have passed before matches start in June and July. But for three cities along the northeast coast — Fortaleza, Natal and Salvador — the risk for the virus is typically still high during these months.
To keep dengue out of the 2014 World Cup, Hay says that Brazilian health officials need to stop the mosquitoes in early spring. “They can target adult Aedes mosquitoes through fogging (the use of aerosol formulations of insecticides that disperse efficiently) and can interrupt breeding by clearing sites at which the mosquitoes lay their eggs.”
The map shows the 12 cities in Brazil hosting the 20th FIFA World Cup football games in June and July 2014.
The background color of the map shows the probability of dengue occurrence scaled between 0 and 1. The scale moves from green (zero probability of occurrence) to red (100 percent probability of occurrence).
The three cities along the northeast coast — Fortaleza, Natal and Salvador — are predicted to still be in the thick of their dengue season when the football games start.
Map from Hay 2013, Nature.