January 24 2016
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.”
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.