Travel Health Information Sheets
27 September 2011
Health Advice for Travellers to International Sporting Events
International sporting events often attract thousands of visitors and competitors from all over the world. When many people are gathered together for such events, there can be an increased risk of illness (both infectious and non-infectious) or injury. Those planning to travel to international sporting events must be adequately prepared for their trip, and consider the destination, as well as other regions/countries they may visit either before or after the sporting event.
Although significant outbreaks occurring during international sporting events are uncommon, this information sheet will provide general advice for travellers to consider when planning to attend such events. Examples of these events include: Olympic/Commonwealth Games, World Cup tournaments (e.g. FIFA, Rugby, Cricket), and some Formula One events.
Preparations prior to travel
Discuss travel plans with your practice nurse or travel clinic at least four weeks prior to departure. Check the NaTHNaC Country Information Pages for health advice and recommendations for specific countries. Ensure that you know the location of the sporting event in the country you are visiting, and have booked tickets and accommodation in advance.
Safety and Security
Fans should be aware of personal safety at all times, take extra care and avoid crowds wherever possible. Be aware that crowds may suddenly surge resulting in injury. Road traffic injuries are a major cause of serious injury and death. Extra care should be taken if you are a driver, passenger or pedestrians.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) sponsors a travel safety campaign ‘Know Before You Go’. This provides advice on safety and security issues and encourages travellers to be well-prepared for their overseas trips.
A comprehensive travel medical insurance policy should be taken out by all travellers. In order to ensure full cover, any pre-existing medical conditions must be fully declared to the insurance company. All travellers to events in European Economic Area countries and Switzerland should also register and carry with them at all times a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This allows the traveller to access free or low cost emergency health care in the country visited, but may not cover all medical expenses, including repatriation.
Travel related deep vein thrombosis
Long periods of immobility such as long haul flights, bus, car and train trips have been associated with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and/or pulmonary embolus. All travellers at risk should follow DVT prevention measures.
Food and water hygiene
Insect bite precautions
In some countries insects transmit disease. Practise insect bite avoidance: apply repellents, wear protective clothing, and sleep in screened accommodation to reduce the risk of insect-borne diseases.
Check the NaTHNaC Country Information Pages for specific advice on malaria and other insect-borne diseases for your destination.
If rabies is a risk in the country you are visiting, avoid contact with any warm blooded animal, especially dogs. Rabies pre-exposure vaccine should be considered for some travellers. Check the NaTHNaC Country Information Pages to determine your risk of rabies.
A bite, scratch or lick to broken skin in a rabies-endemic country, requires urgent medical assistance to assess the need for post-exposure rabies vaccine. This is necessary even if pre-exposure vaccine was received.
Alcohol can reduce inhibitions resulting in risk taking behaviour, increasing the risk of accidents.
Take care to avoid sexually transmitted infections by using condoms. High-risk activities for blood-borne infections such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, are tattoos, body piercing and injection drug use.
Understand any cultural differences in the country you are visiting and respect them to avoid causing offence.
Consider the weather at your destination. Extremes of hot and cold can be a problem if you are not prepared. Travellers to hot climates need good sun protection and should avoid dehydration. Travellers should regularly apply a high protection sun lotion of at least 15 SPF and cover up with a hat, sunglasses and shirt. Drinking plenty of non-alcoholic fluids will help avoid dehydration.
Returning fans who are ill or who have concerns about their health, such as persons with fever, persistent diarrhoea, a skin rash or chronic respiratory condition, should seek advice from their GP.
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