Burden of vaccine preventable diseases at large events

Amani Alqahtani, Mohammad Alelali, Paul Arbon, Robert Booy, Harunor Rashid

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Large events or mass gatherings (MGs) are known to amplify the risk of infectious diseases, many of which can be prevented by vaccination. In this review we have evaluated the burden of vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) in MGs. Methods: Major databases like PubMed and Embase, Google Scholar and pertinent websites were searched by using MeSH terms and text words; this was supplemented by hand searching. Following data abstraction, the pooled estimate of the burden of VPDs was calculated when possible; otherwise a narrative synthesis was conducted. Results: In the past, at religious MGs like Hajj and Kumbh Mela, cholera caused explosive outbreaks; but currently respiratory infections, notably influenza, are the commonest diseases not only at Hajj but also at World Youth Day and Winter Olympiad. The recent cumulative attack rate of influenza at Hajj is 8.7% (range 0.7-15.8%), and the cumulative prevalence is 3.6% (range: 0.3-38%). Small outbreaks of measles (13-42 cases per event) have been reported at sport, entertainment and religious events. A sizeable outbreak (>200 cases) was reported following a special Easter Festival in Austria. An outbreak of hepatitis A occurred following the 'Jam bands' music festival. Other VPDs including pneumococcal disease, pertussis and tuberculosis have been reported in relation to MG attendance. Conclusion: VPDs not only affect the participants of MGs but also their contacts; vaccine uptake is variable and vaccine implementation is likely to have beneficial effects. Research to address the knowledge gaps surrounding VPDs at MGs is needed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)6552-6563
    Number of pages12
    Issue number48
    Early online date2015
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2015


    • Cholera
    • Influenza
    • Mass gathering
    • Measles
    • Respiratory infections
    • Vaccine preventable diseases


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