Communicable diseases as health risks at mass gatherings other than Hajj: what is the evidence?Int J Infect Dis. 2016 Jun; 47:46-52.IJ
Mass gatherings are characterized by the concentration of people temporally and spatially, and may lead to the emergence of infectious diseases due to enhanced transmission between attendees. This is well-demonstrated in the context of the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages in Saudi Arabia. The goal of this review was to present the available evidence on outbreaks associated with a variety of pathogens, or also the lack thereof, as assessed by thorough surveillance at any mass gatherings with the exception of those in Saudi Arabia. A systematic search for relevant articles in the literature was conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Sixty-eight studies were identified. Although outbreaks have not been reported frequently in or after mass gatherings outside the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages, they have sometimes occurred at Muslim, Christian, and Hindu religious events, at sports events, and at large-scale open air festivals. In this review it was found that the most common outbreaks at these mass gatherings involved vaccine preventable diseases, mainly measles and influenza, but also mumps and hepatitis A. Meningococcal disease has rarely been recorded. Additionally it was found that the transmission of various communicable diseases that may not be prevented by vaccination has been recorded in association with mass gatherings. These were mainly gastrointestinal infections, caused by a variety of pathogens. It was also noted that some outbreaks occurring at mass gatherings have resulted in the international spread of communicable diseases.