Business and Personal Travel Safety – Zika and the Summer Olympics Rio 2016
Traveling executives face broad risks as a normal course of conducting international business, ranging from health emergencies to terrorism, political issues, civil unrest, war exposures and kidnapping.
Business and personal travel during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio presents an additional layer of caution for travelers; insect borne disease, infectious disease and communicable illness risk.
The following information is provided by the Centers for Disease Control, and should be distributed to employees who anticipate travel to high risk areas.
For those with traveling students, traveling camps, traveling church groups or other traveling membership groups, the CDC provides a tremendous library of disease resource information.
The 2016 Summer Olympics will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from August 5 to August 21, 2016. The Paralympic Games are scheduled for September 7 to September 18, 2016. If you plan to travel to Brazil for the Olympics or Paralympics, follow the recommendations below to help you stay safe and healthy.
Brazil, along with many destinations in the Americas, is experiencing an outbreak of Zika virus. Because Zika virus infection in pregnant women can cause serious birth defects, CDC has special recommendations for pregnant women traveling to Brazil. See “Zika Virus in Pregnancy” on this page and the Zika in Brazil travel notice for more information. The Zika outbreak in Brazil is dynamic. CDC will continue to monitor the situation and adjust these recommendations as we learn more.
Zika Virus in Pregnancy
A Zika virus outbreak is currently ongoing in Brazil. Because Zika virus infection in a pregnant woman can cause serious birth defects, CDC recommends special precautions for the following groups:
- Women who are pregnant:
- Do not go to the Olympics.
- If you must go, talk to your doctor or other health care provider first; strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and use condoms or do not have sex during your trip.
- If you have a male partner who goes to the Olympics, either use condoms or do not have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) during your pregnancy.
- Women who are trying to become pregnant:
- Before you or your male partner travel, talk to your doctor or other health care provider about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection.
- See CDC guidance for how long you should wait to try to get pregnant after travel to areas with Zika.
- You and your male partner should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.
- Men who go to the Olympics and have a pregnant partner should use condoms or not have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) during the pregnancy.
What can travelers do to protect themselves?
Before your trip:
- Schedule a health appointment at least 4–6 weeks before you depart. Talk to your doctor or other health care provider about vaccines and medicines recommended for Brazil. See the Find a Clinic webpage for help in finding a travel medicine clinic near you.
- CDC recommends all travelers be up-to-date on routine vaccines, including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), polio, and flu.
- Other recommended vaccines may include hepatitis A, typhoid, hepatitis B, yellow fever (see map), and rabies.
- Medicine for malaria and travelers’ diarrhea may be recommended (see map).
- Consider purchasing travel health and medical evacuation insurance.
- Pack a travel health kit.
- Monitor travel warnings and alerts from the US Department of State.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
- Leave a copy of your itinerary, contact information, credit cards, and passport with someone at home.
During your trip:
- Follow security and safety guidelines. US travelers may be targets for criminals during mass gatherings.
- If possible, don’t travel at night, avoid questionable areas, and travel with a companion.
- If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation. Drunk people are more likely to hurt themselves or other people, engage in risky sex, or get arrested.
- Carry a photocopy of your passport and entry stamp; leave the actual passport securely in your hotel.
- Carry the contact information for the nearest US embassy or consulate in Brazil. The local emergency service numbers are 190 for the police, 192 for ambulance, and 193 for fire department. Note that these local emergency phone numbers are available in Portuguese only.
- Follow all local laws and social customs.
- Do not wear expensive clothing or jewelry.
- Always keep hotel doors locked, and store valuables in secure areas.
- If possible, choose hotel rooms on the second through the sixth floors. A room on the first floor of a hotel may provide easier access for criminals. Rooms on the seventh floor or above may be difficult to escape in the event of a fire.
- Follow food and water safety guidelines. Eating contaminated food and drinking contaminated water can cause illnesses such as hepatitis A, typhoid fever, and travelers’ diarrhea. Read about how to prevent these diseases by visiting the Safe Food and Water page. Beware of food from street vendors, ice in drinks, and other foods and drinks that may be contaminated and cause travelers’ diarrhea. Download our mobile app “Can I Eat This?” to help you make safe food and water choices while you are traveling. The app is available free for iPhone and Android.
- Prevent mosquito bites and use insect repellent. Diseases spread by mosquitoes, such as Zika, malaria, dengue, and yellow fever, are common throughout Brazil. Read more about ways to prevent bug bites by visiting the Avoid Bug Bites page. You may also need to take prescription medicine to protect against malaria or get a vaccine against yellow fever. Zika virus can also be spread by infected men through sex; condoms can reduce this risk. Talk to your doctor or other health care provider about prevention steps that are right for you. See maps for yellow fever and malaria risk areas.
- CDC recommends that pregnant women not go to the Olympics. Learn more in the “Zika Virus in Pregnancy” section on this page.
- Follow guidelines for hot climates. Dehydration and heat-related illnesses are common during sporting events. Drink plenty of (bottled!) water, keep cool, and wear sunscreen. Read more about how to prevent these conditions by visiting the Travel to Hot Climates and Sun Exposure pages.
- Avoid swimming in fresh water—lakes and rivers. Schistosomiasis is a parasitic infection that can be spread in fresh water that may cause serious health problems.
- Reduce your risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The celebratory atmosphere at the Olympics may encourage travelers to engage in risky sex, especially if they are drinking or using drugs. Condoms can prevent HIV and other STDs. Carry condoms that were purchased from a reliable source. Read more about how to prevent these conditions by visiting the Traveler STD page.
- Sexual transmission of Zika virus from a man to his sex partners is possible. If you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex with a male partner while traveling, you should use condoms.
- Choose safe transportation. Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of healthy US citizens in foreign countries. Read about ways to prevent transportation injuries by visiting the Road Safety page.
- Reduce your exposure to germs. Wash your hands often, and avoid contact with people who are sick. Read more about reducing your exposure to germs in the Stay Healthy and Safe section of the Brazil page.
If You Feel Sick During Your Trip:
- Talk to a doctor or nurse if you feel seriously ill, especially if you have a fever.
- For more information about medical care abroad, see Getting Health Care Abroad.
- If you don’t speak Portuguese and require assistance with a health issue, see our list of common Portuguese health terms and phrases.
- Avoid contact with other people while you are sick.
After your trip:
- If you are not feeling well after your trip, you may need to see a doctor. If you need help finding a travel medicine specialist, see Find a Clinic. Be sure to tell your doctor about your travel, including where you went and what you did on your trip. Also tell your doctor if you were bitten or scratched by an animal while traveling.
- If your doctor prescribed antimalarial medicine for your trip, keep taking the rest of your pills after you return home. If you stop taking your medicine too soon, you could still get sick.
- Malaria is always a serious disease and may be deadly. If you become ill with a fever either while traveling in a malaria-risk area or after you return home (for up to 1 year), you should seek immediate medical attention and should tell the doctor about your travel history.
- If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about your recent travel. Pregnant travelers returning from the Olympics can be tested for Zika virus infection.
- To protect sex partners from Zika, men who have been to the Olympics should consider using condoms or not having sex for 8 weeks if they do not get symptoms of Zika. Men who have Zika symptoms or are diagnosed with Zika should use condoms for 6 months. If the man’s partner is pregnant, the couple should either use condoms or not have sex during the pregnancy.
- Women who have traveled to an area with Zika should wait at least 8 weeks after travel before trying to get pregnant if they do not get symptoms of Zika. Women who have Zika symptoms should wait at least 8 weeks after symptoms start; men with Zika symptoms should wait at least 6 months after symptoms start before attempting conception.
- For more information, see Zika and Sexual Transmission.
- All travelers should continue to take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks after they leave Brazil to avoid spreading Zika, even if they do not feel sick.
- For more information, see Getting Sick after Travel.
- Health Information for Travelers to Brazil
- Brazil Information from the US Department of State
- Olympic and Paralympic Games 2016 Visitor Information