Unlike previous years, spectators to the FIFA World Cup in South Africa face some unusual health hazards. I wrote earlier that possibly the biggest one of them all is the fact that one in five South Africans are HIV-positive.( see ” The 2010 World Cup’s Biggest Threat” ). With half a million visitors, 40,000 call-girls and 42 million condoms donated by the former British government, initiatives to prevent the spread of AIDS seem to be hampered by FIFA’s refusal to have health prevention booths at the various venues.
Intending travellers to South Africa need not worry about malaria and yellow fever as these diseases are virtually unknown, unless you are at the Mozambique border. And heat stroke is not likely to be a major problem as the climate is relatively mild. South Africa is well south of the Equator and has a Mediterranean-type climate – in fact, June/July is in fact winter in the Southern hemisphere. This unfortunately is also the flu season, so its wise to get those shots before going there.
In fact, the infectious diseases to worry about will be food-poisoning, measles and tick-bites as reported by a survey of tourists between 1997 and 2009.
Infectious diseases aside, a greater health hazard would be crime – its widely reported that South Africa has one of the world’s highest rates of mugging, rape and gang-rape. Machine guns can be bought for USD 100 and executions handled for less than USD1000. Tourists have been known to be mugged in shopping malls and on the slope of Table Mountain. The Australian Government even warns that the South African Police Service does not have “Tourist Police”. Criminals, however, have posed as “Tourist Police” to extort and rob tourists, including by stopping tourists buses to check proof of identity and search luggage.(see here)
But perhaps the most annoying health threat will be the ubiquitous Vuvuzela horns, which at 127 decibels is louder than the air-horn (123 decibels) and the referee’s whistle (115 decibels). Prolonged noise at 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing impairment and soccer fans are urged to use ear-plugs and ear-muffs. Is FIFA going to ban these horns? Definitely no, as its part of local culture at football games..
Share this Post