As the 2016 Olympics kick off for the summer, the excitement for the competition is palpable throughout the air, but it’s hard to overlook the many health concerns that have risen in Rio. Here is a quick glance at some of the health concerns that might threaten the wellbeing of many athletes and even more fans this August in Rio, and how to deal with them.
Perhaps the biggest threat to everyone’s health is the widespread Zika virus, which is spread by the bite of a certain mosquito, or through exchange of bodily fluids. It can also be passed to a fetus if a pregnant woman has the virus, which is cause for concern, because infants infected by the Zika virus before birth often have birth defects, such as impaired growth and hearing deficiency. Given the recent Zika outbreak in Brazil, this is definitely something to be wary of. Rio, a common site for infectious diseases, is clearly susceptible to the spreading of the virus. There is currently no vaccine for Zika, and the best way to protect against Zika is to cover your body with clothing and use insect repellent to avoid getting bit.
While Zika virus is a serious issue, it is far from the only one. Many of Rio’s swimming areas are contaminated with sewage and are severely polluted, and it is important to avoid ingesting any of the waters as to prevent diarrhea or sickness.
As Brazil is currently experiencing its winter, the flu is common. It might have been a while since you got your last flu shot, so take extra caution to avoid those germs. Wash your hands regularly, cough and sneeze into your elbow, and disinfect eating surfaces before using them.
Food and Drink
As with any type of travel, a common health risk is simply the hygienic levels of the food and drink being sold. To be safe, avoid food sold by street vendors and/or that has been sitting out for an extended period of time, and always drink bottled water (check that the bottle is sealed before you purchase it). Bringing diarrhea medicine is always a good idea as well.
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