Brazil authorities ordered health workers to sterilize Rio de Janeiro’s Sambadrome, which will serve as the center of the 2016 Summer Olympics, over the fear of the Zika virus.
The stadium holds 90,000 people and often hosts major events such as concerts and celebrations. The next major event occurs in two weeks with the famous Rio carnival.
More than 3,000 health workers in yellow suits, goggles, and gloves sprayed down the massive structure to fight against the disease.
“We are losing the battle in a big way,” admitted health minister Marcelo Castro.
The Pan-American regional wing of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned the disease will spread to nations with the mosquito carriers. They exempt Chile and Canada since those countries do not contain the Aedes mosquitoes.
The workers will continue to inspect and disinfect these venues on a daily basis during the events. Stagnant water remains the main target as it is a breeding ground for the mosquitoes.
Patients often experience mild symptoms with Zika, but pregnant women face a larger danger. Experts have shown a link between Zika and microcephaly, which causes a baby to be born with a skull too small for their brains. This leads to serious mental disabilities.
“It’s a very personal decision, but at this moment of uncertainty, if families can put off their pregnancy plans, that’s what we’re recommending,” stated Angela Rocha, the pediatric infectologist at Oswaldo Cruz Hospital.
The U.S. and other countries have advised pregnant women not to travel to Brazil.
The Australian Olympic Committee pushed their female athletes to educate themselves about Zika and “consider the risks of competing in the Rio Olympics due to the outbreak of Zika.”
“Any team members who are pregnant at the time of the Games need to consider the risks very carefully before deciding whether to proceed with travel to Brazil,” they said.
Athletes will receive mosquito repellent from officials, who also recommends everyone wear long sleeves when possible.
“The health and wellbeing of all our team members is paramount, especially those females in the team of child bearing age,” declared Australian Olympic Team Chef de Mission Kitty Chillier. “We have a responsibility to ensure that we educate and inform all prospective team members of the potential risks and to put in place whatever mitigating measures we can.”
Brazil has registered more than 3,000 infants with microcephaly since the outbreak occurred. They also discovered links between Zika and arthrogryposis, “which creates joints incapable of full mobility, shielded by weak muscles.”
Winter falls in August so officials hope the cooler weather will kill the mosquitos and lessen the threat of Zika.