Olympic Officials Claim No Major Zika Virus Risk For Tourists, Athletes
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Representatives for the Rio Olympics committee pointed to research carried out by health officials that assures athletes and visitors that the Zika virus will not be a major risk when the Olympic Games commence in August.
According to NBCNews.com, health officials for Rio 2016 say the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes—known to carry the Zika virus—will be less active during the Olympic Games due to the cooler and drier weather in the region.
“It is worth knowing that the incidence of the mosquito that transmits the virus is extremely low in August and September, which is winter in Brazil and the period in which the Rio 2016 Games will take place,” Rio 2016's chief medical officer Dr. Joao Grangeiro said in a statement. “Furthermore, we have conducted 44 test events this year, the majority of them in the summer, the peak period for Zika. With more than 7,000 athletes, 8,000 volunteers and 2,000 staff participating, there was not a single case of contamination (infection).”
A recent study done at the University of Sao Paulo indicates that the Olympics “would result in no more than 16 additional cases of the disease.” In addition, the World Health Organization reported that moving or changing the 2016 Olympic Games would not significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus.
The Olympic committee is also working with locals to control the mosquito population, including daily patrols to eliminate standing water near the areas where the Games will take place. Officials still state that the best course of action is for visitors to protect themselves with longer clothing and insect repellents.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization are still advising pregnant women or women thinking about becoming pregnant to avoid areas affected by the Zika virus due to the potential birth defects the disease can cause.
As of July 10th elite athletes including Jordan Spieth, LeBron James, Rory Mcllroy and Jason Day have withdrawn due to Zika concerns.