In an effort to address
travelers’ concerns about the recent outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil,
Embratur, the country’s tourism board, last week released a detailed statement
outlining the latest measures and precautions Brazil is taking to control the
“We want to help travelers
feel safe with the option of coming to Brazil,” said Vinicius Lummertz,
president of Embratur.
According to the tourism
board, the Brazilian government has set aside $465 million to combat Zika and
has assembled a task force of more than 300,000 people.
They are working to
eliminate the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits dengue, Zika and
chikungunya, and have been armed with pesticides and Zika diagnostic kits.
About 80% of the people
who contract Zika have no symptoms, and for the rest, the symptoms are
relatively mild, consisting of fever, skin spots, pinkeye and muscle or joint
aches. However, the larger concern has been an association between pregnant
women who contracted the Zika virus and babies born with microcephaly, or
abnormally small heads, a condition that can result in incomplete brain
Brazil has created a
National Office for Coordination and Control of the Combat Against
Microcephaly. On Feb. 13, 220,000 military members visited around 3 million
homes throughout the country to educate the population about the prevention of
Zika. They distributed educational booklets, posters and brochures and are
using social media and digital platforms to disseminate information about the
disease, according to Embratur.
There are two kinds of
preventive measures. First is the effort to control the mosquito populations,
and the second is encouraging people, especially pregnant women, to protect
themselves from mosquito bites.
The increased transparency
comes as Brazil prepares to host the 2016 Rio Olympic in August and Paralympic
Games in September. According to Embratur, the Brazilian government has sent
environmental health surveillance agents to visit the Olympic venues in an
effort to control possible mosquito outbreaks.
Any reservoirs around an
Olympic venue’s construction areas where water could gather (the Aedes aegypti
mosquito breeds in contained water) are being removed, and those that cannot be
removed are being treated to prevent mosquito larvae from hatching.
In addition, the Brazilian
government said that during the Olympics, which take place Aug. 5 to 21, it
plans to have at least one environmental health agent monitoring each venue.
“The Brazilian government
is fully committed to ensure that the 2016 Games take place with security and
tranquility, whether for athletes, technical staff or tourists,” Embratur said
in a statement.
Since the Zika outbreak
became international news last month, Embratur said it has been monitoring the
impact the virus has had on the country’s tourism business. The agency said so
far trip cancellations to Brazil due to Zika have been minimal.
In fact, Embratur reported
that there was a “significant increase” over last year in the number of
international tourists who visited Brazil during the Carnival celebrations,
which took place Feb. 6 to 10.
Embratur reiterated the
messages that have been issued by the World Health Organization and the World
Tourism Organization that there are no travel restrictions to countries that
have cases of Zika virus transmission.
However, the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention has maintained that pregnant women should
consider postponing travel to any area where the Zika virus transmission is
In addition to Brazil, that
includes around 30 countries and territories in the Caribbean, Latin America
and the Pacific Islands.