Rio de Janeiro is just months away from hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics as Brazil deals with a terrifying epidemic of the Zika virus, which has been linked with shrinking babies’ brains. In 2015, as many as 1.5 million cases were registered in the country (paywall)—and the disease is spreading fast around the world.
Brazil’s Ministry of Health now has announced its anti-Zika plans to calm the fears of the thousands of athletes and tourists who are expected in the city in August.
Counting on the fact that August is a drier month in Brazil and the population of the mosquito that spreads the disease should be lower than it is currently, the authorities say inspections for mosquito presence will begin four months before the Olympics. Daily sweeps will be performed during the games. Fumigation, however, will only be used in extreme cases, to avoid health issues for athletes and audiences.
Meanwhile, Brazilian authorities will have a trial run as they face the threat of further Zika outbreaks during next month’s important Rio carnival.
The best advice against contracting the Zika virus is to avoid mosquito bites, both wearing long-sleeved clothes and using mosquito repellent. That is currently the advice being issued by the US—where at least a dozen cases have been confirmed by the Center for Disease Control already—though other nations are advising women not to get pregnant for the next two years.
It is worth remembering that Zika fever is typically only a mild illness lasting few days to a week, and that the main concern so far has been for pregnant women. In rare cases, in adults, the virus may be causing Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can cause paralysis and sometimes death. Further, while strongly suspected, the link between Zika fever and newborn microcephaly—the shrinking of brains—hasn’t yet been confirmed.