August 4, 2016, by Guest Author
Stay ahead of the game – and stay healthy in Rio
As sporting enthusiasts from across the UK jet off to Brazil to support Team GB at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, a University of Nottingham expert in respiratory medicine is urging travellers to remember the basics when it comes to protecting their health while abroad.
Jonathan Van-Tam, Professor of Health Protection in the School of Medicine, said that despite many recent alarming news headlines about mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika and Dengue Fever (both of which are real and important issues), travellers were at least as likely to be affected by illnesses of a more familiar nature.
He said: “We see Brazil as a warm country and indeed northern parts of the country are in a tropical zone, but the more southern parts of the country have a true winter season in June to August, along with all the illnesses which tend to thrive when the temperature drops.
“People should be aware that it is approaching the peak of flu and respiratory virus season in Brazil and that mixing with an unfamiliar population in which those viruses are circulating is likely to produce some flu, coughs and colds among visitors. In addition, in common with almost any holiday to a far flung destination other common illnesses such as gastrointestinal infections are common among travellers.”
Professor Van-Tam, was an expert member of the Olympics health advisory group convened by the Department of Health. The group met to support the British Olympics Association and the British Paralympics Association to ensure that they could continue to provide the best possible information and advice to Team GB and British Olympic Visitors, including on respiratory infections. He added: “Obviously, I would urge people to follow the advice from Public Health England (PHE) and the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) and make sure they have had the relevant vaccinations and anti-malarial treatment they need before they travel. Information is available here. However travellers shouldn’t overlook the basic precautions they should take before any ‘normal’ holiday to a far flung destination.
“Sensible precautions that can be taken include: insect bite creams or sprays, animal bite avoidance, food and water hygiene, heat and sun protection, respiratory hygiene (Catch it, Bin it, Kill it) and appropriate vaccinations and malaria prophylaxis (if indicated). I would urge people to read and follow the NaTHNAC advice carefully. It’s also vitally important that travellers practice safe sex to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases, including the Zika virus.”