By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Visitors who wish to see the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro later on this year should not fear being contaminated by the Zika virus, said general director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Margaret Chan, on Wednesday while on an official visit to Brazil to assess the actions taken by the government in regards to combating the mosquito which carries the virus.

Brazil, Zika, WHO,WHO director, Margaret Chan, visits research center in Rio de Janeiro, health, Brazil Bews
WHO director, Margaret Chan, visits research center in Rio de Janeiro wearing shirt with saying “One mosquito can not be stronger than a country”, given to her by Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, photo by Fernando Frazão/AgBr.

“Brazil is not a newcomer when it comes to organizing big events. Our specialists have been meeting with the government and the local Olympic Committee to develop a solid plan to control the vectors (of diseases),” Chan told reporters.

She noted that August and September, when the games are scheduled, is winter time in Brazil, and a much drier time of year. The drier weather hinders the proliferation of the mosquitos which carry the virus.

“The Brazilian government and the Olympic Committee have made a commitment to work together to guarantee that the Games are enjoyable for participants, visitors and athletes,” she concluded.

Along with Brazil’s Health Minister Marcelo Castro, Chan visited Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, in Rio de Janeiro, one of the main health research centers in the country. According to Castro the population of the Aedes aegypti mosquitos decline drastically during the months of July and August and the government is confident that with the actions currently underway to destroy the breeding grounds of these mosquitos there is no need to worry.

“The efforts this year by the federal, state and local governments in addition to that of society as a whole, have been like never before,” he concluded.

Earlier in the day, Chan visited the capital of Pernambuco, Recife, the state with the largest recorded number of microcephaly cases linked to the Zika virus.


  1. Wait one minute my Brazilian friends?

    The evidence linking Zika to microcephaly is circumstantial. The real reason may be a case of mercury poisoning. Most of Brazil’s microcephaly cases are in the northeast. Brazilian love eating fish and gold mining.

    It’s a global scandal. Brazil has created a worldwide panic,” said Alexandre Dias Porto Chiavegatto Filho, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Sao Paulo, one of the most-respected universities in Latin America. “I’m not saying that Zika is not causing microcephaly, but I am saying that the ministry has yet to present any scientifically credible evidence to support that conclusion.

    Why haven’t they also shown up in proportional numbers in other countries hit hard by Zika, such as Colombia?

    See: The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science website.

    Knowledge about the extreme vulnerability of the fetus to methylmercury began with the Minamata Bay, Japan experience. High exposure to methylmercury occurred in Minamata. A chemical company released mercury into Minamata Bay and polluted the bay heavily for decades. Mercury accumulated in the aquatic food chain. The released mercury was methylated in the aquatic food chain leading to high levels of mercury in fish. The local fish was very high in methylmercury, and the local population consumed high amounts of the fish. Eating the fish, pregnant mothers did not only burden themselves, but methylmercury was transferred in utero to the fetus. This caused severe neurological complex symptoms and severe birth defects. While the mothers were usually without symptoms of mercury poisoning, their babies were born severely damaged with microcephaly, cerebral palsy, severe mental retardation,

    For nonoccupationally exposed individuals, the main source of methylmercury exposure is through consumption of contaminated fish and shellfish.35 Mercury cannot be eliminated by cooking.

    Children are considered especially vulnerable to environmental threats. There are specific periods in their development when the exposure to a chemical, physical, or biological agent may result in adverse health outcomes.

    Women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children should avoid some types of fish and eat fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.

    Neurodevelopmental effects in the fetus are associated with maternal exposure. Mercury can also cause neurocognitive deficits and neuromotor disabilities. As mentioned earlier, 3 extensive epidemiologic studies among fish-eating populations have assessed mother– child pairs for prenatal methylmercury exposure and the resulting impact on child development.

    Although gold mining is extremely dangerous work for children, tens of thousands of children can be found in the small-scale gold mines of Africa, Asia, and South America. Children work both above and under ground. Mercury is mixed with the crushed ore or sediments to separate out the gold. Mercury is very often mishandled by small-scale miners. It can be absorbed through the skin or through inhalation of mercury vapor. Seeping into the soil or water supply, it can contaminate food and drinking water. Informal gold miners often do not wear protective clothing and most do not know about the proper handling of mercury. In some countries mercury amalgamation is done at home by women, which exposes other family members, including very young children, to mercury.


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