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See the Doctor Before Going to the World Cup, Health Officials Warn

Update Date: Jun 03, 2014 10:06 AM EDT

The World Cup, which will take place in Brazil this year, is set to start later on next week. Millions of people, including fans, reporters and, of course, the teams, will be travelling from all around the world. Even though the festivities and spirits will be high, the risk of infections will also increase. In order to reduce one's own risk, health officials are reminding travelers to schedule a doctor's appointment and receive preventive care before heading to Brazil.

According to the report written by researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who are travelling to Brazil should see their primary care physician or a travel medicine specialist. These appointments should ideally occur four to six weeks prior to travelling. Even though these recommendations may no longer apply to people going to the World Cup, since that is starting in roughly one week, the health officials stated that these recommendations can apply to those planning on attending the 2016 Olympic Games, which is also set in Brazil.

"We're expecting that a lot of Americans will attend and we want to give them a chance to review some of the health and safety issues that come with attending World Cup-like events in a country like Brazil," said lead author of the report, Joanna Gaines, a senior epidemiologist at the CDC, reported by Reuters.

Health and safety precautions include routine vaccines for certain infections, such as the flu, measles, mumps and rubella, typhoid and yellow fever. By seeing the doctors four to six weeks prior to the event, the vaccines have time to gain efficacy.

"We want to make sure that we can get our prevention message out to as many healthcare providers as we can," Gaines said. "We recommend that travelers regularly apply insect repellent and wear long sleeve clothing that's also treated with insect repellant. Your basic health protection measures help a lot as far as any infectious diseases are concerned."

In the report, Gaines and colleagues detailed the potential health dangers that occur at mass gatherings. The authors provided many examples, such as the 2008 World Youth Day that occurred in Sydney, Australia. During that event, there were six different flu strains identified as the causes of an outbreak. The researchers added that in a 1997 soccer tournament hosted in Belgium and in the 2000 Hajj pilgrimage located in Saudi Arabia, there were meningococcal outbreaks.

The World Cup will take place from June 12 to July 13 throughout 12 cities in Brazil. The 2016 Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro starting on August 5 and ending on August 21.

The report, "Health and Safety Issues for Travelers Attending the World Cup and Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Brazil, 2014 to 2016," was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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