22 June 2000
Infectious disease surveillance in Belgium during the Euro 2000 football tournament
Mass gatherings increase the potential for transmission of infectious diseases (1,2). Contributory factors include the setting up of itinerant food catering installations, the possible carriage of infections by people from different countries, and increased contact between people. The Euro 2000 football competition, taking place in the Netherlands and Belgium between 10 June and 2 July 2000, is an event likely to carry some risk of infectious disease. Footballers from 16 European countries and an expected 1 200 000 visitors have gathered for the tournament in the two countries.
A surveillance system based on daily reporting has been set up throughout Belgium in order to detect and investigate infectious events that require immediate action. Local public health authorities (Commission Communautaire Commune (Brussels), Communauté française and Vlaamse Gemeenschap), and the Federal Ministry of Public Health are working together to define the extent of the response, coordinate actions, and collate notifications.
The list of priorities drawn up during preparatory meetings includes legionellosis, foodborne diseases, measles, pertussis, diphtheria, meningococcal meningitis, and rare imported diseases. The surveillance system implemented has four components:
remind all general practitioners to notify
ask all hospital emergency units to notify
activate the sentinel laboratory network (national coverage >70%)
ask the European infectious diseases networks (European Working Group on Legionella Infections and Enter-Net) for information about infections possibly linked to Euro2000.
All incoming data are being sent to the National Institute of Public Health (Institut Scientifique de la Santé Publique/Wetenschappelijk Instituut Volksgezondheid -IPH-), where they are collated, interpreted, and reported to the authorities by electronic mail each day. Information is being exchanged with Dutch medical authorities. All European national institutes for communicable disease surveillance are invited to report relevant information about infectious diseases that may have been acquired during the event to the IPH (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Handysides S. Medical care at special events. Eurosurveillance Weekly 2000; 2: 980603.
- Coulombier D. Surveillance for the World Cup, France, 1998. Eurosurveillance Weekly 2000; 2: 980611.
Reported by Olivier Ronveaux (email@example.com), Sophie Quoilin, Frank Van Loock, Epidemiology Section, Scientific Institute of Public Health, Brussels, Belgium.
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