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  • A member of the samba school Las Rosas de Ouro in a parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil during Carnival 2015.

    A member of the samba school Las Rosas de Ouro in a parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil during Carnival 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Published 7 February 2016

Officials tell Latin America's Carnival-goers to put on more clothes to avoid Zika.

Some municipalities in both Brazil and Venezuela have announced that they have canceled their annual Carnival celebrations because of the unknown dangers of the new, and rapidly spreading Zika virus.

The town of Urbaneja in Venezuela's coastal province of Anzoategui announced that it would not celebrate Carnival this year, which began over the weekend and will run until Tuesday.

The municipality canceled the festivities after several cases of Zika were found in the state, and one woman is believed to have been killed by the mosquito-borne virus.

Officials say the municipality will instead invest in fumigating the town, house by house, in order to wipe out the spread of the virus, which has caused the spread of the Guillain Barre disease and has lead to deformations in newborns.

Other municipalities have also followed suit in Brazil, which has been the country most affected by the Zika virus where at least 4,000 babies have already been born with deformed heads. Municipal officials say they are avoiding attracting crowds to the region, and instead will invest festival money into fumigation.

These include various municipalities in the state of Sao Paulo who say they will fight the rise not only of Zika, but also dengue fever and Chikungunya, which are all transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Other areas in Brazil, however, have refused to cancel Carnival, such as Rio de Janeiro whose week-long celebration brings in millions of visitors each year from all over the world.

Instead, local officials have advised festival-goers to wear clothes that cover their whole bodies and use plenty of mosquito repellent. The warnings have come with some resistance, however, as many say this does not fit with the festival's atmosphere, which is generally laden with scantily dressed people in sequins and feathers.

Colombia, the second worst-affected country, has refused to cancel any of its celebrations or to put any restrictions on tourism because of the virus. Instead they have disseminated information across the country as well as to incoming tourists, on how to avoid contamination and how to recognize the virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) last week called the Zika virus a “global health emergency” after it was found in 33 countries. The largest number of infections are still occurring in Brazil and Colombia.

WATCH: World Health Organisation on Zika Virus

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