Rugby fans from around the world are flocking to New Zealand for the 2011 Rugby World Cup (RWC), and HealthMap is watching for outbreaks of anything beside World Cup Fever. With 20 countries from around the world sending teams and even more countries sending fans, the RWC will offer travelers a great opportunity to share their passion for rugby, and perhaps a few viruses along for the ride.
Mass gatherings like major international sporting events have allowed diseases to travel in the past, with highly contagious diseases being the ones most easily spread. For example, visitors to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver brought measles with them, leading to an outbreak in British Columbia. The threat is also in the reverse direction. During the FIFA World Cup, South Africa was experiencing a measles outbreak and several travelers were later diagnosed with it in their home countries.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health is well aware of the potential threats and has been extensively preparing. In addition to making emergency plans in the event of a disaster, they have published health advice for all visitors and set up a 24/7 free hotline staffed by nurses to answer health questions.
In consultation with those working with the Ministry of Health, HealthMap has produced a special map with heightened surveillance of the participating countries. We hope this resource will provide early warning of highly contagious or dangerous diseases should they emerge.
Visit healthmap.org/rugby to see what diseases are circulating in the participating countries:
* Influenza in Southern Hemisphere countries (Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa)
* Rubella in Fiji
* Measles in Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand