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The Zika virus – what’s it all about and is it really a threat for Rio 2016?

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Two words. Zika virus. They have never been more commonly cited, talked about or read about until recently when it is feared that outbreaks could cause major concern during the upcoming Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Searching through Google, typing ‘Zika’ into the news section, countless results are churned up of a virus that is a hot topic worldwide.

Zika was discovered nearly seventy years ago, but the viral strain that has recently entered Brazil is a new, different and vastly more dangerous kind. There’s no denying that Rio de Janeiro is in the middle of an outbreak and many athletes have been left to decide whether an Olympic medal is really worth risking their health for.

Already, in golf, out of a total 60 male golfers invited to compete, 21 players including the top four in the world (Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy) have officially dropped out of the event. This is amongst a steady stream of athletes who are deciding that it’s better not to risk it. This may be considered a dramatic move, but the outbreak that began in the country’s northeast is thriving amongst the Olympic hot-spot which will soon see hundreds of thousands of spectators from all over the world gather together in less than a month.

Zika Virus in Rio Brazil

The virus, which is carried by mosquitoes, has been linked to birth defects in the babies of women who have been bitten whilst pregnant. For other people bitten, it can result in an infection. It can be treated if caught early enough, however, it seems that the more and more we learn about the intricacies of the virus, the nastier it gets and experts predict that the Zika virus will spread to all countries in the Americas, including the Caribbean.

So what can we as travellers, spectators, and holiday-goers do to prevent it? Well, it really is a case of taking it back to basics and ensuring we wear barrier protection against the bites from mosquitoes in the first place.

Insect repellents containing DEET are extremely effective in preventing the bites of mosquitoes. A mosquito repellent like our Trek Ultra can last up to twelve hours and contains micro-encapsulated DEET which is released slowly and lasts longer than other repellents. It protects against insect-borne disease from mosquitoes, ticks and other flying insects and can be used on children from two years-of-age.

Best Mosquito Repellent Trek Ultra  

For extra, added protection, it is effective to wear a mosquito-repelling band like our Mosi-Off bands. These should be worn alongside an effective repellent but can add peace of mind while travellers are out and about. Like Trek Ultra, they contain micro-encapsulated DEET and slowly release a repellent vapour for long-lasting protection. The bands repel insects seven hours a day, and the pack of bands provides protection for up to 14 days.

Mosi Off Insect Repellent Wrist Bands 4 Pack in Box

Finally, mosquito nets shouldn’t be overlooked. They are extremely effective and come in a range of shapes and sizes to suit traveller’s needs. Depending on accommodation, a net is an important part of the travel kit – especially when camping or sleeping in outdoor environments.

Double Bed Wedge Mosquito Net in Green

Wherever you are going and whatever you have planned this summer, Zika has been recognised as a “public health emergency of international concern” by the World Health Organisation and isn’t something that should be taken lightly. By following the steps outlined above at the very least when travelling to tropical areas affected, and particularly if travelling to watch the Olympics this year, we can all reduce the risks to ourselves and others and enjoy ourselves – bite-free! 

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