Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Thu March 24 2016

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  • A Cruising Couple | March 24, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    Don’t Worry About Zika at Rio Olympics

    Don’t Worry About Zika at Rio Olympics

    The Zika virus has been making headlines as of late, striking fear into the hearts of travelers and resulting in countless trip cancellations. Specifically, the recent outbreak in Brazil has many worried about the 2016 Olympic Games, set to be held in August. If you already have plans to head to Rio de Janeiro for the games, should you cancel your plans because of Zika? We don’t think so.

    At this time, the World Health Organization has reiterated it is not recommending any general travel or trade restrictions related to the Zika virus and Olympic spokesman Mario Andrada stated at a recent press conference, “We are sure this battle can be won and will not affect the Games.”

    Christ the Redeemer Statue Rio de Janeiro

    Zika is not a new disease. The virus has been around in some form for decades, first being detected in Uganda in 1947. Since that time, Zika was most often found along the equator from Africa into Asia and the Pacific Islands. It has only recently made its way to the Americas in the last year.

    READ MORE: 5 Ways Brazil is Fanning Summer Olympics Fervor

    Despite its long history, little is certain about the Zika virus. As of January 29, nearly 4,200 cases have been reported in Brazil, but only six have been linked with certainty to the virus. As yet, Brazil's Zika outbreak has been concentrated in the northeastern part of the nation near Recife, though cases in Rio have been reported. Recife is approximately 1,165 miles north of Rio de Janeiro by air.

    By itself, the virus is not normally life threatening, and most people who become infected have no symptoms at all. The World Health Organization is still unclear whether the virus actually causes microcephaly, a condition marked by unusually small heads in newborn babies that can result in developmental problems. The World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan, has stated that scientists are still working to determine causality between the virus and the birth defect.

    Eskild Petersen, editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, believes that controlling Zika is a problem of mosquito control and once the authorities get that working, the risk will be reduced. Rio de Janeiro has already taken action by launching a massive effort to fumigate Rio for mosquitoes and eliminate the insect’s potential breeding grounds.

    Fumigation is a common pest control process where fumes are released into an area to eradicate insects. Workers in protective overalls and goggles fumigated the Sambadrome facility two weeks prior to the carnival parades.

    Carnival, held in the middle of February, brought together approximately 1 million people to celebrate the festival in Rio de Janeiro from countries all over the world. Even in the midst of the Zika scare there have been no reports that the virus infected any of the festival attendees. Half that number are expected to visit Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games.

    The Arpoador Rio

    Rio 2016 spokesman Phil Wilkinson responded to the latest developments by saying: "The Olympic and Paralympic venues will be inspected on a daily basis during the Rio 2016 Games to ensure that there are no puddles of stagnant water and, therefore, minimize the risk of coming into contact with mosquitoes." The mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus, Aedes aegypti, breed in stagnant water.

    In addition, Marcelo Castro, Brazil's health minister, has promised that 220,000 troops would go door-to-door in an attempt to eradicate the virus and mosquito repellent would be handed out to 400,000 women on social welfare. There is even a strategy proposed by an English company to release genetically modified male mosquitoes with a gene that kills the larvae of females after they mate. Male mosquitoes don’t bite. Only female mosquitoes bite and therefore can transmit the virus.

    In August, the games will be taking place during one of the coolest times of year in Brazil. During this time, the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads Zika will be far less prevalent. Wearing adequate protection such as bug repellent and appropriate clothing will further minimize the risk of mosquito bites.

    Tijuca Peak Rio de Janeiro

    READ MORE: How Zika Warnings Are Good News For US Spring Break Destinations

    Simple Solutions To Avoid Mosquito Bites

    1) DEET is the standard when it comes to keeping bugs at bay. You can buy DEET insect repellent products varying in strength from 5 percent which lasts 2-4 hours to 100 percent DEET, which protects you from insect bites for over 10 hours.

    2) If you are looking for something more natural, the oil extracted from the leaves and twigs of the lemon-scented gum eucalyptus plant, is said to work just as well and is recommended by the Center for Disease Control.

    3) There is now clothing available with built-in insect repellent. BugsAway apparel with Insect Shield technology offers built-in insect repellent Permethrin that is odorless and stays in your clothes.

    4) Instead of staying in an open-air bungalow, book a room in a hotel that has closed windows, climate control and/or mosquito netting.

    For those who are planning to visit Rio for the Olympic Games this August, it will be important to keep up to date on any travel advisories and techniques to minimize risk, but as of now, the games are on!


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A Cruising Couple A Cruising Couple's Column

A Cruising Couple Dan and Casey are the two lovebirds, world travelers and adventurers extraordinaire behind the popular travel blog A Cruising Couple - adventure travel with a dash of class. Their stories and photographs feature that special place where experiential and stylish travel meet. Find out how you can spend less money, live more adventurously and travel more luxuriously on their blog,
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