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Pregnant women should not go to the Olympics - advice

Wednesday June 22nd, 2016

Pregnant women should not go to the Olympics in Brazil because of the Zika virus, according to official guidance published yesterday.

The advice has been published by the World Health Organisation to help protect people travelling to Brazil for this Summer's Olympic & Paralympic games in August and September.

The guidance was posted on the WHO's website yesterday (21 June). It states: "The following recommendations are intended to advise national health authorities and health care providers about practices and measures for travellers visiting Brazil to stay safe and healthy."

Travellers should be aware of the health risks and necessary preventive practices to minimise their risk of disease or accidents, it explains. For example, Brazil's health authorities provide advice on their website.

Immunisation schedules require at least four to eight weeks to complete, but the advice adds that "Even when departure is imminent, there is still time to provide both advice and some vaccines".

The risk of contracting hepatitis A in Brazil is "intermediate" as the country is prone to outbreaks, but the risk of contracting hepatitis B is likely to be low. Regarding typhoid fever, the risk in Brazil is highest in the North and North-East, including Amazonas and Manaus which is hosting the Olympic football tournament.

The risk of rabies and malaria are "negligible", but the Yellow Fever vaccine is recommended for anyone travelling in Brazil beyond Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and Sao Paulo. The guidance states: "Although the risk of mosquito borne disease (including Zika) is lower during winter, travellers should still take personal protective measures to prevent mosquito bites."

The risk of Zika can also be reduced by practicing safe sex, and WHO advises pregnant women not to travel to areas of ongoing Zika virus outbreaks, which currently includes Brazil.

World Health Organization: Brazil - Health Advice for Travellers to the 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games 21 June 2016 [abstract]

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | Flu & Viruses | Traveller Health | Women's Health & Gynaecology | World Health

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