Olympic, Paralympic venues will be inspected for stagnant water where mosquitoes could thrive
Zika virus, spread by mosquitoes, linked to condition that cases babies to have small heads, developmental delays
To guard against a virus linked to birth abnormalities, Brazil’s Olympic and Paralympic venues will be inspected daily during the 2016 Games in Rio Janeiro, games spokesman Phil Wilkinson said Sunday.
Inspectors will be looking for any stagnant water where mosquitoes could thrive, he said.
The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne disease that has raged in South America and other regions for several months. The virus has been linked to an uptick in babies born with a neurological condition called microcephaly which can cause abnormally small heads and serious, sometimes deadly, developmental delays.
Earlier this month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged pregnant women to postpone travel to Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. The CDC also recommended women who have recently traveled to these places during their pregnancy be screened and monitored for the virus.
The CDC has also added Bolivia, Ecuador, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, Guyana, Cape Verde and Samoa to the list of countries where pregnant women should not travel.
Fear of the Zika virus is so fierce, some leaders have urged women in their countries not to become pregnant.
In November, Brazil was the first nation to issue that advice, after it saw a sharp increase in the rare birth defect coinciding with an outbreak of the virus there.
The Ministry of Health has recorded more than 3,700 cases of microcephaly in the 13 months since the beginning of 2015. In comparison, 147 cases of microcephaly were recorded in 2014.
The Rio 2016 organizing committee is in regular contact with the Brazilian Ministry of Health and the Municipal Health Department, which issue guidance on health issues in Brazil and Rio, according to Wilkinson.
The organizing committee will follow virus prevention and control measures provided by the authorities and provide relevant guidance to all who attend the games, the spokesman said.
He noted that the Rio Games will take place during the winter months of August and September when the dryer, cooler climate significantly reduces the presence of mosquitoes.
Zika fever was first discovered in Uganda in the 1940s and has since become endemic in parts of Africa.