Mass gathering events represent a risk for the spread of communicable diseases. These large gatherings presents a unique situation where the spread of infectious diseases can be facilitated due to the huge number of people, originating from different countries and congregating in space and time.
In this context, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is stressing the importance for European Union citizens planning to attend these events to be vaccinated against infectious diseases especially measles. The Agency also notes that the vaccine should be administered according to their national authority recommendations.
Measles is of particular interest in the context of mass gatherings because the number of measles cases has been increasing within Europe. The majority of measles cases so far have been reported from France (7321), Spain (1812) and Germany (1037). However, several other European countries report higher number of cases compared to the same period last year: Switzerland (554), United Kingdom (345), Belgium (382), Romania (254), Italy (170), Denmark (79), Norway (26) and Sweden (17). The vast majority of case reports continue to be in un-vaccinated individuals.
The importance of pre-travel health advice in case of mass gathering events such as concerts, sporting events and religious gatherings is well-known: persons travelling to these events can be exposed to infectious diseases such as measles and carry the acquired infections back to their home countries where they infect other people. On the other hand, visitors can bring infections from their home country when attending the events, and as such, expose fellow visitors and nationals.
One such event is the World Youth Day scheduled on 16-21 August in Madrid, Spain. It is anticipated that this event will bring together over 350,000 persons, mainly teenagers and young adults, from all over the world.
ECDC is continuously monitoring the European and global situation regarding communicable diseases to be able to identify at an early stage any events that pose a risk to the public health of European Union citizens.