Brazil to protect Olympics from Zika mosquitoes

Brazilian authorities announce preventative measures against Zika virus during Olympic Games

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

A graduate student works on analyzing samples to identify the Zika virus in a laboratory at the Fiocruz institute in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016.

The Brazilian authorities vowed on Sunday to prevent the spread of the Zika virus during the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games later this year, blamed for causing horrific birth defects.

An outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease has caused growing concern in Brazil and abroad.

Six months from the opening ceremony, the first city in South America to host the Games promised to attack breeding sites and to protect athletes and fans from the virus which has dramaticlly spread since October.

"The mayor's office will be intensifying inspections," City Hall said in a statement.

"About a month before the opening of the Games a team will visit all competition sites to eliminate possible concentrations."

The good part is that the Games will be taking place during the southern hemisphere winter, when the insects are less active.

The Zika virus is not spread person to person and generally has flu-like symptoms which will likely clear up in about a week.

However, it is linked to serious birth defects. For example, if a woman is infected with the disease it can cause her baby to have an abnormally small head, which is also called microcephaly.

Brazil has recorded 3,893 microcephaly cases in the country's northeast since October.  

The United States and other countries have warned pregnant women against travelling to the region, as the cases have increased across Latin America, notably in Brazil which is due to light the Olympic torch on August 5.

Some Latin American countries have advised women to avoid pregnancy altogether.