Health chiefs plan for epidemic during games

Preparations are being made to deal with a possible epidemic of infectious disease during the London Olympics, with officials concerned at the prospect of an outbreak of unusual illnesses.

The Health Protection Agency has set up a monitoring system of hospital admissions and concerns raised with GPs, to alert doctors to the first signs of mass contagion. With athletes and spectators set to descend on Britain from across the world this summer, a huge public health campaign is also being launched to help prevent this occurring. A spokesman for the agency said it was also studying previous events and "global infectious disease trends".

A study in The Lancet said stampedes and heatstroke are the leading causes of death at mass gatherings. However, organisers believe diarrhoea and vomiting in the Olympic village represents the most likely health concern for the 2012 Games.