Zika virus won’t derail Rio Olympics

Zika virus won’t derail Rio Olympics

Amidst an increasing concern about holding the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil for fears of a Zika virus spillover, the World Health Organization makes a formal announcement that the risk of the virus spreading is “Very low.”

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The announcement from WHO dispels the notion put forward by tourists, participating athletes and sports officials regarding the need to move the venue for the Olympics that starts this August. Brazil expects around 500,000 tourists to visit the country for the Summer Olympics, as reported by The Rio Times.

The Zika virus, which causes the Zika fever, is an ongoing epidemic in the Americas. The outbreak began last year in Brazil, and Rio De Janeiro has been one of the hardest-hit places. There are no clear findings yet as to what has caused the pandemic, but findings point out its similarities to Dengue, where urbanization plays a key role. There is no active vaccine for the virus at this time, and its availability for public use may come in ten to twelve years.

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WHO officials say the virus is spread by mosquitoes and confines itself in tropical areas. Since the Rio Olympics is set to start this August, it is going to be wintertime in Brazil. The cool atmosphere makes it difficult for mosquitoes to thrive in the environment, and stadiums where spectators converge to watch the competitions will be duly treated with insecticide.

There have been around 1,581 confirmed cases since the outbreak had begun in Brazil last year. So to quantify what “very low” actually means when it comes to the virus’ risk of spreading, WHO officials say, it is almost a zero risk. To move the venue elsewhere, especially at this point in time is out of the picture.

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The Zika virus is known to cause minimal to no symptoms at all, but causes birth defects on newborns. It currently affects sixty countries.

Photo courtesy: Shawn Carpenter/Flickr.com