Travelling to the Olympics – Here Are Some Health Risks to Prepare For
If you’re one of the 500,000 people planning on traveling to Rio de Janeiro this August for the Olympic and Paralympic games, there are some things you need to consider to ensure your trip is a safe and healthy one.
Be Sure You’re Up-to-Date on All Your Vaccines
Whenever traveling overseas, you should always make sure you are protected from the numerous infectious diseases you may come in contact with. Make an appointment with your doctor, or visit your local urgent care center, to get current on you regular vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella. Also, find out which vaccines are specifically recommended for Brazil.
The CDC typically recommends those travelling to foreign destinations receive vaccines for Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, and malaria. Should you decide to extend your stay and travel outside of Rio, you may require further vaccination. A doctor will be able to help you with this.
Be aware: some vaccines can take a few weeks to become effective so get your shots as soon as possible.
Don’t Take the Threat of the Zika Virus Lightly
You’ve no doubt heard the scary reports about the Zika virus, which has been linked to severe birth defects, neurological conditions, and even death. The disease is spread through mosquito bites and the threat is very real if you will be traveling to Brazil. While there is no current vaccine for the Zika virus, prevention is possible when you focus on protecting yourself from mosquito bites.
Wear pants and long sleeves as well as mosquito repellent every day. Make sure the room you’re staying in has properly-fitted window screens and, if possible, keep windows closed and the AC on.
While these precautions may seem a hassle to some, they will not only protect you from the Zika virus but also from Dengue and Yellow Fever, which are also currently making the rounds is certain parts of Brazil.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is also recommending visitors avoid spending time in poor, crowded parts of Rio. The poor sanitation and lack of running water make an ideal breeding ground for mosquitos. And, though you think you may be safe in the areas of the city where the games and events are taking place, the Aedes Aegypti mosquito that spreads Zika virus, dengue, and Yellow Fever is known as an urban mosquito because it loves living in cities near trash, clean water sources, and all of those people.
The CDC and WHO strongly recommend pregnant women avoid attending the Olympics because the Zika virus poses serious developmental threats to fetuses.
Avoid Swimming in Lakes and Rivers
Freshwater lakes and rivers in Brazil may also be home to parasitic worms that make people very sick. Visitors are also being warned to avoid certain beaches and bays that are filled with trash, dead fish, and sewage.
According to health experts, it only takes a small amount of ingested water – roughly three teaspoons – to make a person violently ill. Sickness may include fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. This is another reason to vaccinate against some of the contagious diseases like hepatitis A and typhoid fever found within these bodies of water.
Travelers who insist on swimming while in Brazil are advised to not swallow any water and shower immediately after. But to be safe, best to swim in only chlorinated pools.
Be Careful of What You Eat and Drink
Brazil is known for some extraordinary cuisine, most notably barbecue, fish stews and enticing cocktails. As delicious as the local foods may be, they also pose some health risks. Travelers can easily contract foodborne illnesses like typhoid, hepatitis A and traveler’s diarrhea from food that is unhygienically prepared.
Use common sense when buying and ordering food on your trip. For instance, not all street food vendors will be selling unsafe food. But you must be certain you only buy from sources that appear clean and reputable.
It’s also safer to eat foods that are steaming hot as opposed to lukewarm foods that have been sitting around all day.
It’s a good idea to speak with a doctor about prescribing some antibiotics to bring with you in the case of diarrhea.
Choose Your Floor Wisely
The CDC has even advised travelers on which floor they should try to book a room. Their recommendation: Choose rooms on the second through sixth floors. Their reasoning is rooms on the first floor provide easy access to criminals who like to prey on tourists, while rooms on the seventh floor and above may pose far too great a challenge of escape in the event of a fire.
Should you follow all of these recommendations your trip to the Olympic games should be safe and enjoyable.