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Brazil is Creating an Anti-Zika App for This Summer's Olympic Games

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Hoping to ease visitors’ concerns over the Zika virus, Brazil’s health ministry will launch a smartphone app to help detect the disease during this summer’s Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro.

The app will provide information on preventing the mosquito-borne illness, help users determine if they are exhibiting symptoms and if necessary direct them to the nearest hospital or pharmacy, according to AFP.

The health ministry said the app that launches in May will be available in English, Portuguese Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese and Russian.

In February, the World Health Organization declared Zika virus “a public health emergency of international concern.” The rare declaration was spurred by growing concern that the Zika infection in pregnant women is linked to microcephaly a birth defect that causes small head and brain abnormalities.

The flu-like disease that can spread via mosquito bites and sexual contact has also been linked to Guillain Barré syndrome, a severe neurological disorder that causes temporary paralysis. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 80 percent of people infected with the virus experience no symptoms.

Last month, the United States OIympic Committee told U.S. sports federations that athletes who fear for their health amid the Zika virus outbreak should consider not going to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio this August.

U.S. health officials have also told pregnant women to avoid travel to places where the virus is being transmitted.

Brazil’s Health Minister Marcelo Castro said that “the risk of infection will be considerably reduced” during the Olympics, which will be held during the southern hemisphere’s winter season, when there are fewer mosquitoes, AFP reported. He conceded that the situation remains “very worrying.”