Rio de Janeiro – Brazil officials have warned foreign visitors, especially pregnant women coming to South and Central America, to beware of the Zika virus. As many as 1.5 million Brazilians may be infected, and letting aside the other southern and central nations like Colombia, El Salvador, Venezuela and many others that are also on a spread.

The illness could be linked to babies born with small and undeveloped brains. This happens two weeks before the nationwide Carnival celebrations and 200 days before the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Olympics, the first time a South American country will host it.

Carnival in Rio de Janiero is the most revered and famous without question. The lavish Masquerade Balls, massive Street Parties and prestigious Samba school competition make it an epic televised event around the world. Credits:

There have been more than 3,500 cases of microcephaly in Brazil, the term used for babies born with smaller brains. Those babies have been delivered from a mother infected with Zika. The link need further study to confirm but officials, even United States ones, have encouraged pregnant women to take precautions.

Those precautions are avoiding places where the virus has spread, if they do not have any choice, use mosquito protection and long sleeve cloth.

Some health analysts believe that Brazil’s government reaction has been slow and inadequate. “The initial response…was to overlook its importance,” said Dr. Artur Timerman, a leading specialist who is president of the Society of Dengue and Arbovirus, a nongovernmental organization. “It was said that Zika was a poor cousin of dengue, without much relevance.”

Dr. Timerman attributes the quickly spread of the virus due to the economics recession in Brazil. He added that such recession has “weakened” the nation’s infrastructure of laboratories and other primary-care services.

What have caused this spread in Brazil?

On the other hand, Brazil’s government assured that they have mounted an “unprecedented offensive” against the mosquito, which transmits the virus. One of them includes working closely with schools to inform the preventative measures; and deploying army troops to search and remove stagnant water supplies, one of mosquito’s habitats.

But even with those efforts, the Brazilian government confirmed that the economic recession hinders the fight against the virus and limits the research that could be made for a vaccine. Marcelo Castro, Brazil’s health minister added that even though the economic crisis had no influence in the beginning of the problem, it has been a step back in their efforts to stop it.

Dr. Timerman has predicted 100,000 cases of microcephaly. He said that Brazil’s government needs to work closely with the CDC, the World Health Organization and other agencies that could develop a vaccine.

The Carnival’s celebrations attracted over 1.5 million tourists last year to the southern nation. This year there are at least as many reservations as last year and in the case of some hotels, even more, said Alexandre Albuquerque, a spokesman for the state tourism secretary.

Source: The Wall Street Journal