Objective: To describe the development and implementation of, and major findings and recommendations from, a regional mass gathering surveillance system (MGSS) in support of the International Cricket Council Cricket World Cup West Indies 2007.
Methods: The regional MGSS was developed by the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) and its member countries as an adaptation of the routine communicable disease surveillance system in order to rapidly detect unusual disease events during the tournament. The implementation of the MGSS required the identification of additional human and financial resources, capacity building activities, laboratory strengthening, and improved global epidemic surveillance and communication mechanisms.
Results: Timeliness and completeness of data reporting in the MGSS were both > 85%. No unusual pathogens were identified in the region during the tournament. Only dengue and influenza, both endemic to the region, were identified. The early alert detection software used identified a total of 24 aberrations from seven countries, the largest proportions being gastroenteritis, fever and respiratory symptoms and injuries. All aberrations were promptly investigated and most were found to be false alerts. Three unusual disease events were detected, all from one country. They were responded to in a timely manner and did not adversely affect the tournament.
Conclusions: The surveillance capacities gained in preparing for, and supporting, the tournament assisted in strengthening and testing the already existing national and regional communicable disease surveillance systems. Events such as these should be utilized to strengthen already existing surveillance systems, which should be flexible enough to respond to changing events.