World Cup may bring viral epidemic to Brazil

BY Justin Scuiletti  April 7, 2014 at 4:00 PM EDT
Cryoelectron microscopy reconstruction of Chikungunya virus. Photo via Wikimedia user A2-33

Cryoelectron microscopy reconstruction of Chikungunya virus. Photo via Wikimedia user A2-33

The World Cup may bring a lot more than soccer to South America in June — a viral epidemic may be traveling with it.

Research published ahead of print Monday in the Journal of Virology warns that FIFA’s 2014 World Cup — the international soccer tournament that draws both teams and fans from around the world — boosts the risk of unleashing a “catastrophic” epidemic of the chikungunya virus across the Americas. Researchers claim that infected travelers can carry the virus to Brazil and that the mosquitoes known for carrying the virus have high transmission ability in areas all around North and South American cities from Tyson, Missouri to Buenos Aires.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Chikungunya can cause high fever, severe joint pain and rashes on those infected, with chances of permanent disability.