Patients Going to Rio Olympics? Here's the Advice You Should Give

Susan Yox, RN, EdD; Martin Cetron, MD


July 20, 2016

Editorial Collaboration

Medscape &

The 2016 Summer Olympics begin in Rio de Janeiro on August 5. Travelers to the Olympics face unique health risks. Martin Cetron, MD, director of the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), answers questions about counseling patients who are traveling to the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Preparing to Travel to the Olympics

Medscape: What vaccines do travelers to Brazil need?

Figure 1. Dr Martin Cetron.

Martin Cetron, MD: All travelers should be current on routine immunizations, including an annual influenza vaccine. Most travelers should also be vaccinated against hepatitis A and typhoid. Some travelers should consider hepatitis B vaccination, particularly if they may be at high risk (engage in risky sex, get tattoos, or use injection drugs). Those who are likely to have contact with animals should consider the rabies vaccine. Most of the Olympic Games will be held in and around Rio, where there is no risk for yellow fever or malaria, but some of the soccer venues are in cities where these diseases can be acquired. Depending on their itineraries, some travelers may need yellow fever vaccine or malaria prophylaxis (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Areas of Brazil associated with mosquito-borne diseases.

Medscape: What other health risks do travelers face in Brazil?

Dr Cetron: Broadly, the three most common categories of health risks are (1) foodborne and waterborne diseases, primarily travelers' diarrhea; (2) vector-borne diseases such as Zika; and (3) threats to safety and security.