Department of Health

Health advice for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Health advisory

Advisory number:
Date issued:
19 Jul 2016
Issued by:
Dr Finn Romanes, Acting Chief Health Officer, Victoria
Issued to:
Health professionals, Victorians attending Rio 2016

Key messages

  • Brazil is currently experiencing a significant outbreak of Zika virus. Brazil is also a yellow fever declared country and is endemic for chikungunya, dengue and malaria. These infections are transmitted by mosquitoes, and Zika virus can also be transmitted through unprotected sex.
  • Victorians travelling to Brazil to attend Rio 2016 should seek medical advice prior to travel and ensure they are vaccinated against yellow fever prior to departure, as well as any other required vaccinations.
  • Pregnant women are recommended to defer travel to Brazil at the present time, as there is a risk of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects, should Zika virus infection occur.
  • Once in Brazil, the best defence against mosquito-borne infections is to avoid being bitten. Travellers should also practice safe sex to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including Zika virus infection.
  • Health professionals should advise travellers to seek medical advice immediately if they are unwell after returning from Brazil. Travellers should mention their travel history to their doctor when ill.
  • The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services should be notified of all cases of yellow fever, chikungunya, dengue, malaria and Zika.

What is the issue?

The XXXI Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games are taking place in Rio de Janeiro 2016, Brazil, from 5 to 21 August 2016 and from 7 to 18 September 2016 respectively. Five additional cities will be hosting matches of the Olympic football tournament - Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Manaus, Salvador, and São Paulo.

Anyone travelling to Brazil is advised to follow health advice to avoid transmission of mosquito-borne diseases including Zika virus infection, yellow fever, dengue, malaria and chikungunya. Travellers are also advised to practice good hygiene when handling food and to practise safe sex to prevent transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including Zika virus infection.

Who is at risk?

Anyone travelling to Brazil to attend the Olympics is at risk of contracting diseases spread by mosquitoes. Pregnant women are strongly advised to defer travel to Brazil because of the specific risks of Zika virus. All travellers should also be aware of the increased risk of gastrointestinal infections when travelling and the importance of safe sex practices.

Symptoms and transmission

For more information on specific mosquito-borne disease, refer to the following links on health.vic:


All travellers should seek medical advice prior to travel. Travellers need to consider a range of potential health issues in the areas they plan to visit and can take action to prevent illness and injury. Travellers should ensure they are up to date with routine vaccinations and review the need for any additional vaccinations. There is no vaccine for Zika virus.

A vaccine for yellow fever is available in Australia, and affords lifelong protection. Travellers entering Australia from yellow-fever declared countries can now satisfy their requirements by presenting a yellow fever vaccination certificate indicating vaccination at any point in the past. See the link below for the location of accredited Victorian vaccination centres.

The best defence against mosquito-borne viruses is to avoid being bitten, for example by using insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin and wearing light-coloured clothing that covers as much of your body as possible. Travellers should be aware that different types of mosquitos bite during the day and night and it is important to be protected at all times.

Safe sex practices are also recommended to protect against several sexually transmitted infections, including Zika virus infection. Basic hand hygiene and infection control should be considered a priority by all travellers.

More information

Yellow Fever vaccination centres in Victoria

Notifying conditions to the Department of Health & Human Services

Consumer information

Zika virus information at the Better Health Channel

Important health information for those travelling to Rio at the Australian Government Department of Health website

2016 Rio Olympic Games advice at Smartraveller

Reviewed 20 July 2016


Was this page helpful?