Those travelling to the World Cup in Brazil next year are at potential risk of contracting a mosquito-borne virus, according to commentary published in the renowned scientific journal, Nature.

A world-leading infectious diseases expert is strongly urging Brazil to minimise the number of dengue-transmitting mosquitoes during the World Cup by implementing aggressive vector control in April and May 2014, especially around the northern stadiums where mosquitoes are abundant.

Those attending matches in Brazil’s north-eastern cities of Fortaleza, Natal and Salvador will be at highest risk of contracting dengue fever.

“They can target adult Aedes [a genus involving several species of mosquito] mosquitoes through fogging [using aerosol formulations of insecticides that disperse efficiently] and can interrupt breeding by clearing sites at which the mosquitoes lay their eggs – water collected in discarded rubbish, for example,” advised Simon Hay, a fellow at Oxford University, UK.

Hay also alluded to the Brazilians being theoretically at risk of contracting dengue fever because outsiders can introduce types of the dengue virus against which the Brazilians have low immunity.

Dengue – an infectious tropical disease caused by the dengue virus transmitted in a mosquito’s bite – can produce flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, muscle and joint pains and a skin rash, requiring potential hospitalisation. In a small number of cases, the disease may develop into the life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever.

Prevention of dengue fever is sought by reducing the habitat and volume of mosquitoes and limiting exposure to bites, as there is no commercially available vaccine to prevent the virus.

Hay advised health watchdogs in all countries with dengue to contribute to the solution by utilising online monitoring tools that record disease outbreaks, including DengueMap and Google’s Dengue Trends.

Approximately 573 Brazilians have died from dengue this year (up to November 20) compared with 292 in 2012 and 472 in 2011.

A total of 6,566 severe dengue cases have been reported this year in Brazil, spurring authorities in 157 cities (including Salvador, Fortaleza, Rio de Janeior and Manaus) to declare a state of alert.

According to the World Health Organisation, dengue is spreading, with 40 per cent of the world’s population at risk from the dangerous mosquito-borne virus.

The infectious disease is endemic in more than 110 countries world-wide.