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Diseases | ESG

Mosquito Borne Disease at the Paris Olympics: Reducing the Risk

Author: By Dr Juan Carlos Jaramillo, MD Chief Medical Officer at Valneva

With millions of fans and hundreds of athletes from across the globe expected to arrive in Paris this July, the French government and organizers are intensifying efforts to mitigate potential public health risks – including the spread of infectious diseases.

Such a large sporting event might expect to see more cases of common illnesses like gastrointestinal infections and influenza – however, another challenge which has recently grown in prominence is the risk posed by mosquito-borne diseases.

Transmitted to humans through the bite of a mosquito carrying a virus or parasite, mosquito-borne diseases include dengue, chikungunya, and zika, which can cause severe suffering to humans, long-term complications, and even death.[1]

A growing global problem
Normally, concerns about the risk of mosquitos at mass public events are something we would more commonly expect to associate with tropical and subtropical regions. For example, organizers of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio conducted daily inspections of venues in the run up to the games to minimize the impacts of an outbreak of Zika in the region.

However, more cases of mosquito-borne diseases are now being reported in previously unaffected areas, such as the U.S. and Europe. The impacts of climate change over recent years have expanded the territories of disease-carrying mosquitos (learn more about the correlation between global warming and mosquito-borne disease here). Projections suggest that as many as 8.4 billion people could be at risk of contracting these diseases by the year 2100.[2]

Preparation and prevention
Mass sporting events can create a unique environment and specific public health risks that must be managed accordingly. For Paris, organizers will also need to factor in the presence of competent vectors, such as the Asian tiger mosquito, which carries strains of serious diseases and is now widely established in France. Further to this, athletes and spectators travelling from areas where mosquito-borne diseases are endemic could introduce new cases.

Positively, health authorities in Paris are taking measures to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, such as enhanced surveillance, fumigation, and innovative solutions such as mosquito traps that mimic the human scent.

Public education on the risks and precautionary measures is also crucial – those traveling to Paris are encouraged to:

  • Use insect repellent
  • Cover up by wearing long sleeved tops and long trousers
  • Avoid stagnant water sources, as these provide ideal conditions for mosquito breeding
  • Ask their healthcare provider about available vaccinations that can protect against mosquito-borne diseases
  • Familiarize themselves with the disease symptoms and know where to seek medical support if they begin to feel unwell

Protecting public health
In our post-pandemic world, the impact of infectious disease outbreaks not only on our enjoyment of public events, but on our wider healthcare infrastructures is clearer than ever. Collaboration between the scientific community, governments and vaccine manufacturers is essential to both protect those attending mass events and combat the growing public health challenge of mosquito-borne diseases.

At Valneva, our vision is to live in a world where no one dies or suffers from a vaccine preventable disease. Through strategic partnerships and pioneering vaccine research programs, we hope to make a significant difference to global public health efforts by limiting the threat of infectious diseases, including mosquito-borne diseases.


[1] World Mosquito Program. Mosquito-borne diseases webpage. Available at: Last accessed May 2024.

[2] World Economic Forum (2023). As climate change boosts mosquito-borne diseases, we must take action to stop their spread. Available  at: Last accessed May 2024.