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Zika virus and the Rio Olympics: your questions answered
With an estimated 500,000 foreign tourists making their way to Brazil for this year’s Olympic games, there are major concerns that the thousands of people heading for Rio from around 200 countries could cause the Zika virus to spread faster and wider across the world than has been seen thus far. Although the World Health Organisation has dismissed the idea that the Olympic games should either be delayed, move or cancelled all together, many professionals, tourists, and athletes have expressed concerns. The most high-profile withdrawal in recent weeks has been golfer Rory McIlroy who joins a growing list of sportspeople choosing not to travel to the Games. It was also revealed in the news in May that British longer jumper, Greg Rutherford has even resorted to freezing his sperm before attending the Games. If you are planning to make the trip to Rio this summer or visit one of the 44 countries currently affected by the Zika, it is important to understand the dangers the virus may pose to you and what exactly you can do to protect yourself. Here’s a short introduction. What is the Zika virus? The Zika virus is transferred by the Aedes mosquito and can be sexually transmitted between partners and transferable through blood and semen. Although the Zika virus can often remain undetected in patients, recognisable symptoms are similar to other mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever and chikungunya – symptoms include fevers, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle pain and fatigue. A major concern with the Zika virus is the effect it on pregnant women. A pre-natal Zika virus infection has the potential to cause the birth abnormality microcephaly in newborns. How to protect against the Zika Virus Protect against bites: If you do decide to go ahead with your travel plans, it is absolutely vital to protect yourself against mosquito bites to minimise the risk of contracting the virus. This includes regular application of mosquito repellant, containing at least 40% of the chemical DEET. Another simple measure to take is to cover up your skin as much as possible. This is crucial as the Aedes mosquito is active throughout the day and not just late in the evening. Indoor protection Mosquito bites are regularly suffered at night while people are sleeping and unable to swat away insects. To reduce the risk of this occurring, it is advisable to close windows and doors, relying instead on air conditioning to keep your bedroom or suite cool. However, the most effective preventative measure is the use of mosquito nets, which can be used whether you choose to stay in a hotel room or in a tent. Do not leave stagnant pools of water As mosquitos breed in standing water, it is crucial to make sure you do not leave water to stagnate around your living space. Tip out all water and get rid of anything that may collect water like plant pots or vases. Use protection or abstain from sex As the Zika virus can be sexually transmitted it is important to use condoms at all times to avoid the exchange of bodily fluids. Advice for women It is strongly recommended that women of child-bearing age do not travel to areas where they are likely to contract the Zika virus due to its effect on unborn children. If you are a woman actively trying for a baby or currently pregnant it is recommended to entirely avoid high-risk areas. Whatever your travel plans this summer, ensure you are well protected and make sure you thoroughly research your destination to make for a safe and stress-free holiday.
The dangers of DVT
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) affects roughly 1 in 1,000 people in the UK. It is most commonly found to affect those aged over 40 and has been widely associated with frequent fliers subjected to long periods of time in the same position. Deep vein thrombosis is a type of blood clot caused by poor circulation that usually appears in the large veins of the leg that run between the calf and the thigh. Unfortunately, DVT has very few noticeable symptoms meaning it is difficult to diagnose. Initial symptoms include pain and swelling in the leg. As the clot worsens, sufferers risk a pulmonary embolism – a serious condition that involves a piece of the clot breaking off and being carried into the lungs where it causes a more damaging blockage. The combination of DVT and pulmonary embolism is known as venous thromboembolism or VTE. Who is at risk? Deep vein thrombosis can affect anyone, but it is most prevalent in middle age and the elderly. Those who have suffered from heart disease, strokes or cancer are at a higher risk of developing DVT as these illnesses make the blood more prone to clotting. The risk is also high in those who are overweight and obese, as well as pregnant women and those who have recently undergone surgery or hormone replacement treatment. Those with a family history of blood clots are also more likely to suffer from DVT. Travelling abroad DVT has been closely linked with long haul travel due to its close association with sitting still for long periods of time. DTV has earned the nickname “economy class syndrome” as a lack of leg room and an inability to stretch out or move frequently can contribute to the condition. There are, however, a number of important steps that can be taken to help prevent DVT. Wearing compression socks (also known as flight socks) while travelling is a simple way to improve the circulation to your lower legs and feet, reducing the chances of a clot occurring. Whenever possible, it is advised that passengers go for a short walk during a flight to keep the legs from being inactive for too long. A few simple exercises performed whilst sitting can also increase circulation. These include calf raises – raising your heels then lowering them repeatedly, whilst keeping your toes on the ground, then lowering them. This should then be followed by performing the reverse exercise – raising and lowering the toes repeatedly with heels on the floor. Try doing this at least every half an hour, if not more. There are other easy tips you can try to stop clots from building up from general inactivity. Avoid restrictive clothing that could reduce circulation, try wearing something loose and comfortable. Be sure to keep hydrated and drink lots of water. Hydration is also important to preventing clots. Drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol can help to support regular circulation. Sleeping pills are also not advisable for those at risk of DVT as this can affect blood pressure. How to treat DVT See your doctor if you suspect you have a clot. The earlier that attention is brought to DVT, the easier it is to find and treat through anticoagulant medicines such as heparin or warfarin Have a travel health concern? Contact us today on 0208 993 5889.