Scientists have developed an early warning system to predict the risk of dengue outbreaks for the 553 microregions of Brazil during the soccer World Cup, according to research published in Lancet Infectious Diseases.

“With more than a million spectators expected to travel among 12 different cities in Brazil during the football World Cup, the risk of the mosquito-transmitted disease dengue fever is a concern,” wrote Rachel Lowe, MD, and colleagues.

Dengue is a viral infection that is transmitted between humans by Aedes aegpyti mosquitoes. In some cases, the disease can be fatal. There are currently no licensed vaccines or treatments against dengue. Brazil has recorded more cases of dengue fever than anywhere else in the world, with 7 million cases reported between 2000 and 2013.

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After assessing the past performance using the observed dengue incidence rates for June 2000 to 2013 and obtaining real-time seasonal climate forecasts, inspectors identified optimum trigger alert thresholds for medium-risk and high-risk dengue scenarios.

The chance of a dengue outbreak is enough of a possibility to warrant a high-alert warning in the three northeastern venues (Natal, Fortaleza and Recife), but is likely to be low in all 12 host cities.

“Control strategies should be implemented before the arrival of the visitors to Brazil, because of the potentially explosive nature of dengue epidemics,” wrote the researchers.


  1. Lowe, R et al. Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2014; doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(14)70781-9