RIO DE JANEIRO—Health officials are seeking to allay fears of tourists and athletes coming to Rio for this year’s Olympics by intensifying their efforts to tame a triple epidemic of mosquito-borne diseases, including the Zika virus linked to thousands of cases of infant brain damage.
State health officials over the weekend said they would increase the frequency of inspections of possible mosquito-breeding grounds at Olympic venues in the months leading up to the Games, which run from Aug. 5 to 21, and would conduct daily inspections during the event. If necessary, they said, they would fumigate Olympics sites before the Games.
Organizers are also counting on cooler weather and less rain in August, a winter month in the Southern Hemisphere, to curb mosquito activity.
“The Games will take place in the winter here, so the temperature is a couple of degrees down from the normal summer temperature, so naturally there will be fewer mosquitoes,” said Mario Andrada, a spokesman for the Rio Olympics organizing committee.
But the fast spread of Zika, dengue fever and Chikungunya viruses is so far outstripping officials’ efforts to deal with the outbreaks, which have affected most of the country. There are no vaccines for Zika or Chikungunya. Brazilian authorities recently approved the use of a new dengue vaccine, but it could take months to reach the market.