Zika Virus: a Major Concern For Visitors in Brazil

Scientists in Brazil say they are concerned funding for research into the Zika virus could dry up once the Olympic Games have finished.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors to Rio have been warned about the mosquito-born virus, which if caught by pregnant women could result in birth defects.

With the Zika virus still a major concern for visitors in Brazil, the government is doing all it can to kill mosquitos carrying the virus.
But once the games wrap up – the threat will remain.

Fatima Alves Rosa Da Silva’s seven-month old son Enzo was born with microcephaly a birth defect linked to the Zika virus.

They live in the Rio suburb of Sao Joao de Meriti. Fatima found out she had zika when she was 36-weeks pregnant.

Fatima Alves says:”I looked on the internet children with microcephaly and saw pictures of children who were deformed. I started crying at the start because the situation is devastating.”

There are thought to be around 1700 cases of microcephaly in Brazil.

Although a link between zika and the condition has been confirmed, Brazil’s Ministry of Health is now investigating whether co-infection with other viruses such as dengue could be behind microcephaly.

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But research costs money and in a country battling recession, scientists fear once the Olympics is over, the research may stop.

Virologist, Federal University Rio de Janeiro, Davis Ferreira says: “After the Olympics we are not sure what’s going to happen because we know that the economic problem is still a great player in the city, and in the country, and we know we have less money from federal government to come for either mosquito control or the health sciences.”

For Fatima and her husband Thiago, getting help and information about treating their son has been difficult.

“Brazil is horrible, there is nothing. The government does not help at all; it is bad and has offered no assistance.”

The Games come during Brazil’s winter months, when the risk of mosquito bites and contracting Zika is lower.

But experts predict just a few dozen of the half a million expected visitors will become infected.

The real concern is for those left to fight the virus as Brazil heads towards summer and mosquito numbers rise yet again.


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