Following the spread of mosquito-borne Zika virus, Olympic and Paralympics venues in Brazil will undergo daily inspections during the games to help prevent the further spread of the disease. The Zika virus is also linked to microcephaly, a neurological disease that leads to the incomplete development of the newborn's brain resulting in smaller heads.

The prevalence of the Zika virus and increasing microcephaly rates led to the advice of delaying pregnancy among women in Brazil or those who plan to travel to Brazil and the other 21 countries suffering from outbreaks.

According to the local organizing committee of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, the games set on Aug. 5 to 21 will coincide with Brazil's dry season. This means the mosquito population will be smaller during games season.

Precautions are in places as teams will conduct daily investigations in all of Rio's Olympic and Paralympic sites. The teams will look for stagnant waters that could be breeding sites for the Zika-transmitting Aedes aegypti mosquito. This type of mosquito can also transmit chikungunya and dengue.

"Rio 2016 will continue to monitor the issue closely and follow guidance from the Brazilian Ministry of Health," the committee said.

Health experts said the disordered progress of urban areas and the accumulation of plastic provide Zika-transmitting mosquitos more breeding areas. Experts said vaccines are the best way to prevent the further spread of the notorious virus but, despite news that the government is doing the best they can to develop the said vaccine, it could take at least three years before one arrives.

The mosquito-borne Zika virus in Brazil was first detected in late 2015. Experts theorized that the virus was brought to the country by a tourist during the 2014 World Cup or an international canoeing event held in Rio. The virus has spread quickly, particularly in the country's undeveloped and poor regions in the northeast.

In early January, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised pregnant women to delay travels to the following countries with Zika outbreaks, namely El Salvador, Guatemala, French Guiana, Martinique, Honduras, Bolivia, Colombia, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, Haiti, Mexico, Guyana, Paraguay, Ecuador, Panama, Suriname, Puerto Rico, Cape Verde, Venezuela, Samoa and Brazil. The federal health agency further urged women who recently traveled to these countries to get screened for the Zika virus.

Photo: Mike Vondran | Flickr

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