Monday, December 21, 2015

Rio Worries Over A `Zika Summer'

Rio Forecast - Last Day Of Spring


Tomorrow marks the first day of the first summer with Zika in Brazil, and concerns are running high over a forecast for a hotter and wetter summer due to the influence of El Niño, and how that may affect the transmission of the virus.

For the past couple of years Brazil has seen a droughty summer, with cooler temperatures and few rainy days, and that has helped to suppress the mosquito population.

This year, according to INMET (Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia), that pattern is expected to change, particularly in and around Rio de JaneroThis from  O Globo.

Summer will be warmer and have more rainfall than the past two years

Season, which begins in the early hours of Tuesday, will have a strong influence of El Niño



With the forecast of high temperatures and more rain, the season is likely to go down in history as the "Summer zika". Since researchers linked the increase in cases of microcephaly in babies virus transmitted by Aedes aegypti, the disease has become a serious national public health crisis. During the hottest time of year, there may be a worsening of the picture. In Rio, were 419 suspected cases of zika October until early December. There are more than 600 pregnant being monitored because they had red patches on the body, one of the symptoms of the disease.

- The forecast for the summer of 2016 in Rio is very high temperatures, probably above 42 degrees, due to the El Niño phenomenon. In addition, it may experience many rain showers, those typical of the season. In the last summer, we had periods of 30 to 40 days without rainfall. This should not happen again. For next year, drought forecast still is only 10 to 15 days - says Francisco de Assis Diniz, a meteorologist at the National Institute of Meteorology (Inmet).

Carnival, which starts on Friday, February 13th and ends on February 17th - comes at the mid-point of summer, and attracts hundreds of thousands of international visitors - raising concerns that some may carry Zika home with them.

Much in the same way that the Zika virus is believed to have arrived in Brazil, likely carried in by viremic travelers attending either the World Cup in Sao Paulo in 2014 or a canoeing event held in Rio the same year.

Zika of arrival is linked to sports tournaments

Researchers investigating the virus may have entered the country in the World Cup or canoeing event
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As we discussed a couple of weeks ago, in The International Exchange Rate Of Infectious Diseases, mass gathering events like Carnival, the Super Bowl, The Hajj, and Chunyung (China's Spring Festival travel season) are increasingly viewed as having the potential to spread infectious diseases on an international scale.

For most people infected, Zika will be a fairly mild and self limiting illness.

The suspected link between microcephalic birth defects and maternal infection with the virus remains unproven, but based on the available data, appears the most plausible explanation for the huge jump in birth defects reported in Brazil over the past few weeks.

For those planning to visit Brazil (or any other area where Zika is now being reported), the CDC has issued the following travel health and safety advice.

Watch - Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

What is the current situation?

In May 2015, the first local transmission of Zika virus infection in South America was reported in Brazil. Local transmission means that mosquitoes in the area have been infected with Zika virus, spreading it to humans. Zika virus is now being reported in other countries in South America.

CDC recommends that travelers to South America protect themselves from mosquito bites. The Ministry of Health of Brazil is concerned about a possible association between the Zika virus outbreak and increased numbers of babies born with birth defects. For this reason, pregnant women should take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

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