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Open Access Research article

The FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany 2011 – A practical example for tailoring an event-specific enhanced infectious disease surveillance system

Anja Takla123*, Edward Velasco1 and Justus Benzler1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, Germany

2 Postgraduate Training for Applied Epidemiology (PAE), Berlin, Germany

3 European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training (EPIET), European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Stockholm, Sweden

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:576  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-576

Published: 31 July 2012

Abstract

Background

Mass gatherings require a decision from public health authorities on how to monitor infectious diseases during the event. The appropriate level of enhanced surveillance depends on parameters like the scale of the event (duration, spatial distribution, season), participants’ origin, amount of public attention, and baseline disease activity in the host country. For the FIFA Men’s World Cup 2006, Germany implemented enhanced surveillance. As the scale of the FIFA Women’s World Cup (June 26 – July 17, 2011) was estimated to be substantially smaller in size, visitors and duration, it was not feasible to simply adopt the previously implemented measures. Our aim was therefore to develop a strategy to tailor an event-specific enhanced surveillance for this smaller-scale mass gathering.

Methods

Based on the enhanced surveillance measures during the Men’s Cup, we conducted a needs assessment with the district health authorities in the 9 host cities in March 2011. Specific measures with a majority consent were implemented. After the event, we surveyed the 9 district and their corresponding 7 state health authorities to evaluate the implemented measures.

Results

All 9 district health authorities participated in the pre-event needs assessment. The majority of sites consented to moving from weekly to daily (Monday-Friday) notification reporting of routine infectious diseases, receiving regular feedback on those notification reports and summaries of national/international World Cup-relevant epidemiological incidents, e.g. outbreaks in countries of participating teams. In addition, we decided to implement twice-weekly reports of “unusual events” at district and state level. This enhanced system would commence on the first day and continue to one day following the tournament. No World Cup-related infectious disease outbreaks were reported during this time period. Eight of 9 district and 6 of 8 state health authorities participated in the final evaluation. The majority perceived the implemented measures as adequate.

Conclusions

Our approach to tailor an event-specific enhanced surveillance concept worked well. Involvement of the participating stakeholders early-on in the planning phase secured ownership of and guaranteed support for the chosen strategy. The enhanced surveillance for this event resulted as a low-level surveillance. However, we included mechanisms for rapid upscaling if the situation would require adaptations.