Reports study health surveillance systems at public events

A recent series of reports from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine studied the disease planning and surveillance systems used at major public events.

The results, published in The Lancet, examined public health systems at events including the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, the London 2012 Olympic Games and the 2012 European Football Championship.

The reports found that new web-based surveillance systems in Saudi Arabia helped prevent the spread of the MERS virus during the Hajj in 2012 and 2013.

U.K. authorities also employed data and daily briefings to prevent any major health incident during the London Olympics.

"For all of these events, the host countries and international public health agencies undertook major planning activities to assess and build capacity for disease alert and outbreak response, and to develop effective strategies for public health services," David Heymann, co-author of the reports, said. "This level of preparedness obviously paid off as all the events in question took place without major disease outbreaks or public health issues."

Heymann said that enhancements of surveillance and monitoring systems are key to successful public events in the future, such as the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.