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Confronting infectious disease threats at large-scale international events
Date:2/24/2010

OTTAWA, FEBRUARY 24, 2010 Integrating real-time Internet-based infectious disease surveillance with knowledge of worldwide air traffic patterns could help in confronting infectious disease threats at mass gatherings, such as the Olympics and other large scale events, suggests an article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/doi/10.1503/cmaj.100093.

With the world's population approaching 7 billion and expanding global access to commercial air travel, mass gatherings of hundreds of thousands of people have become commonplace at events like the Hajj, G20 summits, the Olympic Games and other examples. This ease of large population movements through air travel can increase the spread of infectious diseases from one corner of the earth to another.

The article, based on the case fof the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, proposes a tool that could be used to identify infectious diseases at their source and potentially help prevent the importation of infection into the site of the mass gathering.

During the 1991 International Special Olympic Games in the United States, an outbreak of measles was triggered by an athlete from Argentina, where a concurrent measles epidemic was underway.

"This integrated knowledge could be used to notify officials at the site of the gathering of an emerging international threat, and could potentially foster a culture of greater international cooperation by motivating cities and countries that share common risks of infectious disease threats to work collaboratively," write Dr. John Brownstein, Children's Hospital Boston and Dr. Kamran Khan, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto lead authors of the paper.

The authors looked at historic patterns of international air traffic into Vancouver during the month of February to predict where travellers would be originating from during the Winter Gam
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Contact: Kim Barnhardt
kim.barnhardt@cmaj.ca
613-520-7116 x2224
Canadian Medical Association Journal
Source:Eurekalert

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