Zika Virus: Rio Authorities Announce Pre Olympic Clean Up

Source:  TeleSUR
January 24 2016

carnival goers in Brazil and the zika virus.png
Carnival goers raise awareness of Zika virus in the first ”bloco” event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Jan. 23, 2016 | Photo: AFP

With the Rio de Janiero Olympics set to be staged later this year, authorities have announced a series of preventative measures. 

Rio de Janeiro authorities have announced plans to prevent the spread of the Zika virus that has affected Brazil in recent months, in the run up to the 2016 Olympic Games.

The games, set to begin on Aug. 5, come amidst a possible outbreak of the Zika virus that is seeing growing concern in Brazil and abroad.

As a result, Rio de Janeiro authorities will start inspecting Olympic facilities four months before the games in order to get rid of mosquito breeding grounds and they will also conduct daily sweeps during the tournament.

Games will take place in the cooler drier month

The Brazilian health ministry says it is hopeful that the spread of the virus will be hindered by the fact that the games are taking place in the cooler, drier month of August when there are less mosquitoes and fewer cases of mosquito borne viruses being transmitted.

Health experts in Brazil have also warned that this year’s carnival could aggravate the spread of the Zika virus.

Millions of tourists will descend on some of the country’s most severely hit cities such as Salvador and Rio de Janeiro, early February (the middle of the southern hemisphere summer), the peak breeding season for mosquitoes.

“I am worried about this large group of susceptible people going to Carnival,” said Dr Eurico Arruda, a professor of virology at the University of São Paulo. “They will be exposed. It is likely the cases (of Zika) will increase.”

Microcephaly

The Zika virus is contracted through the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is also known to carry dengue, yellow fever and Chikungunya viruses- has spread across the Americas with health officials in El Salvador advising women to delay pregnancy until 2018 amid fears that the infection causes birth defects in newborns.

The virus is suspected to cause a rare brain defect in babies, known as microcephaly, which causes abnormally small heads, leading to severe developmental issues, brain damage and sometimes death.

TeleSUR reported Wednesday that Brazil’s Ministry of Health revised its figures of microcephaly in newborns to 3,893 since authorities began investigating the surge in October. Previous estimates said there were 3,500 recorded microcephaly cases.

Source: Zika Virus: Rio Authorities Announce Pre Olympic Clean Up

One thought on “Zika Virus: Rio Authorities Announce Pre Olympic Clean Up

  1. The Zika virus is obviously a menace to the health and well being of the pregnant women in Brazil and increasingly those who are pregnant in other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean as the virus spreads beyond the borders of Brazil.

    Perhaps there are three key points that should be highlighted in the fight against the Zika virus that is now threatening Brazil and other parts of the region.

    First, as I am sure the governments of Brazil, El Salvador, Colombia, the US and elsewhere where the Zika virus has already appeared, the most effective response to this challenge is a collective one.

    In this regard , all countries already impacted by this virus that is so devastating for unborn babies should pool their medical resources and work out strategies and share their best practices for screening, testing and educating their populations particularly pregnant women and their families in the battle against this virus.

    The latter will in all likelihood require that epidemiologists,virologists, doctors, microbiologists and other medical practitioners from the affected countries cross the borders of each other’s territories to monitor the targeted group of women and those who may suspect that they are pregnant.

    Second, the notion of asking women to postpone their pregnancies for a year or two util the virus is eliminated or at least tamed by the governments in the affected countries and those likely to be affected, though understandable is not a strategy to combat the virus. Rather it is a plea that is solely dependent on the voluntary goodwill of women and their male partners to delay their families for a year or two. The thought is well meaning though fraught with some complications. For example, how cooperative or sympathetic will women at or near to their proverbial biological clock be to this plea? How sympathetic will women who have always had issues with fertility be, particularly those who are getting closer to their biological clock? How likely will these populations of women be to postpone their pregnancies as opposed to taking a serious risk should they be bitten by a mosquito carrying the Zika virus?

    Presumably many of the cited groups of women and others not in these groups will take the chance to get pregnant in these countries rather than hold off on starting or adding to their families.It is also conceivable that some of these women may leave their own countries legally or otherwise and go to countries that they consider safe from the Zika virus to have their babies. Needless to say, there are several implicit and explicit consequences that could be related to such decisions not least of which is that several of these women could be potential carriers of the virus which would only contribute to the globalization of the currently embryonic problem.

    Thus, the need for all governments in the region, those already impacted and those who in all certainty will be, to act in politically decisive ways in mobilizing the required resources to eradicate the Zika virus is indispensable. This fight has to become if it’s not yet a national and regional priority before it becomes a regional and even a global health crisis.

    Finally, the collective battle against the Zika virus today is primordial since its political and economic costs and more importantly, the potential human sufferings of the affected children living with brain deformities and cognitive difficulties brought on by microcephaly are simply incalculable in the long term should those in charge fall asleep at the switch.

    Sadly in Brazil alone there are nearly 4,000 cases of newborns diagnosed with microcephaly according toTelesur. That’s Brazil alone and there are reported cases in Colombia, El Salvador, the US and elsewhere. These cases should alert us to the crisis that may result in due course if decisive collective actions are not quickly adopted to arrest the spread of the Zika virus. Further, if the virus is not decisively combated now like there is no tomorrow not only will the number of cases of microcephaly exponentially multiply but the very fragile health systems in many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean will be even more overwhelmed and less able to serve the people particularly poor pregnant women in the case of the case of the Zika virus.

    “Those who have the privilege to know,have the duty to act” Albert Einstein

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