The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) have asked pregnant women not to travel to Rio de Janeiro or to other parts of Brazil where the Zika virus is present as part of their recommendations for the Olympic Games in August.
In a joint communique, the two affiliated organizations on Thursday acknowledged that athletes and the personnel working at the Games need more information about the risks posed by Zika — which has been linked to microcephaly in newborns — and the ways to prevent infection, reports Efe.
Men who are going to be fathers should practice “safer sex” (i.e. correct use of condoms) or abstain from sex altogether during their partner’s pregnancy after they return to their countries from Brazilian zones where Zika is prevalent.
All those who visit Rio and other areas where the virus is present should also practice safe sex and not have sexual relations during their stay in Brazil or for at least four weeks after their return, in particular if they show symptoms of the disease, including rash, light fever, conjunctivitis and muscle aches.
In addition, they should avoid visiting “impoverished and crowded zones in (Brazilian) cities and towns without potable water and with deficient sanitation, where the risk of being bitten (by a mosquito carrying the virus) is higher.”
Those attending the Games should also follow the general regulations for using insect repellent and wear light clothing covering most of their bodies, and they should consult a doctor before they depart for Brazil.
WHO and PAHO say, however, that the Games are being held during the Brazilian winter when there are fewer active mosquitoes and the risk of being bitten is lower.
The WHO/PAHO advisory is also aimed at reducing the concentration of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes which transmit Chikungunya, dengue, yellow fever and Zika.
The Olympics and the Paralympic Games will be held in Brazil between August 5 and September 18.
The South American giant is one of the nations most affected by the Zika virus, with 1,271 confirmed cases between October 2015 and April 2016, WHO said.