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see-a-doctor-before-going-to-world-cup-headerThe CDC is urging travelers to visit a doctor for preventative treatments before traveling to Brazil.

If your summer travel plans include a stop at the World Cup in Brazil (also the location of the 2016 Olympics), the CDC suggests seeing your doctor four to six weeks before you go. "We're expecting that a lot of Americans will attend and we want to give them a chance to review some of the health and safety issues that come with attending World Cup-like events in a country like Brazil," Joanna Gaines, a senior epidemiologist at the CDC, said. 

In a written statement, Gaines said that large amounts of people going to one destination such as the World Cup and the Olympics have spurred illness outbreaks in the past.

For example, a 2008 outbreak at the World Youth Day in Sydney caused an outbreak of six different strains of the flu. Similarly, there were several meningococcal outbreaks in Belgium in 2007 after a soccer tournament.

The CDC issued a travel advisory for citizens of the U.S. that are heading to the World Cup, taking place in 12 cities in Brazil between June 12th and July 13th. While there are still risks associated with travel, visiting a healthcare professional early on "typically gives you enough time for vaccines to gain efficacy," Gaines said.

The agency recommends that travelers receive routine vaccinations for preventable illnesses like measles, mumps, rubella, and the flu, as well as other diseases like typhoid and yellow fever.

Dr. Henry W. Murray, who studies infectious diseases at a college and a hospital in New York City, says that while getting vaccines "out of the way a few weeks before departure" is your best bet, it is important to receive them at any time before you travel.

Unfortunately, the CDC says that people cannot be protected from all of the diseases they may be exposed to during their trip. For example, with malaria, which comes from mosquitos, there are pills to protect yourself from getting the disease, but nothing is 100% effective.

"We recommend that travelers regularly apply insect repellent and wear long sleeve clothing that's also treated with insect repellant," Gaines said.

The CDC's World Cup report also suggested that people drink bottled water, eat very hot foods, and wash hands thoroughly and often.

"Your basic health protection measures help a lot as far as any infectious diseases are concerned," Gaines said. 

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