During the London Olympic Games this summer, television and Internet audiences will receive regular updates on how many medals each country has won.
But a different kind of daily math will be computed by public health workers striving to monitor doctors’ offices and hospitals looking for signs of infectious diseases. Surveillance systems will collect data on health complaints and illnesses, and a clinic based in the Olympic Park will report anonymous data that will help inform the public health response during the 17-day event, which begins July 27.
“Mass gatherings, including the Olympics, bring together large concentrations of people from throughout the world,” said Brian McCloskey, London director of the Health Protection Agency, an independent organization in the United Kingdom that works to protect the public from health threats. “Some events may attract people from particular risk groups, i.e., those who haven’t received routine vaccinations or are immunocompromised, which could increase the chances of infectious diseases spreading in those who are susceptible.”
To continue reading this story from the July 2012 issue of The Nation’s Health, visit the newspaper online.