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Home Eurosurveillance Weekly Release  2006: Volume 11/ Issue 36 Article 6
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Eurosurveillance, Volume 11, Issue 36, 07 September 2006

Citation style for this article: Franke F, Coulon L, Renaudat C, Euillot B, Kessalis N, Malfait P. Epidemiological surveillance implemented in southeast France during the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. Euro Surveill. 2006;11(36):pii=3043. Available online:

Epidemiological surveillance implemented in southeast France during the 2006 Olympic Winter Games

F Franke1, L Coulon2, C Renaudat1,3, B Euillot2, N Kessalis2, P Malfait1 (

1Cellule inter régionale d’épidémiologie Sud, France
2Direction départementale des affaires sanitaires et sociales des Hautes-Alpes, France
3Programme de formation à l’épidémiologie de terrain PROFET, France

Eurosurveillance recently reported on the surveillance system set up in Italy for the 2006 Olympic Winter Games [1,2]. Some of the competitions of the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Piemonte, Italy, were held close to the French-Italian border, near the city of Briançon, in the department of Hautes-Alpes, and an epidemic intelligence mass gathering system [3,4] was set up by the local public health authorities in France (the Direction départementale des affaires sanitaires et sociales (Ddass) des Hautes-Alpes, and the Cellule interrégionale d’épidémiologie Sud (Cire Sud)). The aim was the early detection of any incident that could justify prevention or sanitary control measures, and to guide interventions in the case of an outbreak or of environmental pollution.

The system was in place from 30 January to 15 March 2006, and collected the following information:

Mortality was monitored daily through deaths recorded by the town hall in Briançon, and the analysis of the causes reported on the death certificates sent to the Ddass.
Acute gastroenteritis, influenza-like illness, and measles surveillance was carried out through a sentinel network of general practitioners set up especially for this period. The two private and public microbiology laboratories in Briançon provided test result data for stool culture, hepatitis A serology and methemoglobinaemia. Data were collected every week.
Data from the accident and emergency department at the hospital in Briançon, and from the Hautes-Alpes emergency ambulance service (SAMU) were followed up daily.
Surveillance data for mandatorily notifiable diseases [5] and carbon monoxide poisoning were reported daily, as usual, and communication channels for these were reinforced.
Preventive measures were also taken in and around Briançon: monitoring the quality of food and accommodation services, in reference to statutory food hygiene standards, intensification of routine water-quality checks and adjusted reinforced water treatment, public information campaigns about legionnaires’ disease and carbon monoxide poisoning, and enhanced controls of quality standards for personal skiing equipment.

Every day, data collected from the various sources were analysed by Cire Sud and Ddass and information was transmitted to the French local authorities every evening. In addition, a weekly report in both French and English was sent every Friday to the data providers, and the Italian regional (Piemonte) and national health authorities, the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), and the Institut de Veille Sanitaire (French National Institute for Public Health Surveillance, InVS).

The participation rate of the partners was close to 100%, and all the data transmission deadlines were met. No adverse health event was identified in the area under surveillance. The activities observed in the accident and emergency department of the hospital in Briançon (daily average of 58 cases), and of the SAMU (daily average of 94 cases) were similar to observations made in the previous year.

The 2006 Olympic Winter Games had a very limited impact on illness and adverse events in the neighbouring French region of Hautes-Alpes.

The special epidemiological surveillance implemented in France during this period was found relevant to the situation, as it met the assigned objectives and the needs of both data providers and decision-makers. All partners had a good understanding of the system, and had no problems working with it.

The temporary enhanced surveillance was set up on the existing routine non-specific surveillance systems using data from hospitals, emergency ambulance services and mortality statistics collected by town halls. Ad hoc surveillance activities involved general practitioners and medical laboratories. The cooperation and responsiveness displayed by the partners have laid the groundwork for a useful and effective network to be used in future sanitary emergency situations such as disease outbreaks and environmental contamination events.

  1. Epidemiological Consultation Team. Surveillance system in place for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, Torino, Italy, 2006. Euro Surveill 2006;11(2):E060209.4. Available from:
  2. Epidemiological Consultation Team. Results from the integrated surveillance system for the 2006 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Italy. Euro Surveill 2006;11(8):E060817.5. Available from:
  3. Coulombier D, Malfait P, Ballereau M. Dispositif de veille sanitaire pour la coupe du monde de football, 1998. BEH 1998, 22:95.
  4. Wetterhall SF, Coulombier DM, Herndon JM, Zaza S, Cantwell JD. Medical care delivery at the 1996 Olympic Games. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Olympics Surveillance Unit. JAMA. 1998 May 13;279:1463-8
  5. Institut de veille sanitaire. Le dispositif de surveillance des maladies à déclaration obligatoire. Retrieved August 14, 2006 on the World Wide Web:

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