CDC: Zika Risk Is Low At Rio Olympics

| by Sarah Zimmerman
Rio Olympic stadiumRio Olympic stadium

A new study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that there is a low risk of the Zika virus spreading during the Summer Olympic Games in Brazil. Out of the 206 participating countries, only four are at risk of importing the disease.

The Zika virus, which is spread by mosquitos and is known to cause birth defects, led to an epidemic in Brazil, with more than 90,000 cases reported during the first quarter of the year. Rio de Janeiro, the site of the upcoming summer Olympic games, had three times more Zika cases than any other state in Brazil, according to VICE.

Now, however, officials are stating that there is a very low risk of contracting the virus during the Olympics. Vox reports that since it's winter in Brazil, there will be fewer mosquitos actually present to spread the disease. Additionally, Olympic travelers are only 0.25 percent of the total amount of people traveling into and out of Zika-infected countries.

Only four countries are at risk of a Zika outbreak because of the Olympic Games: Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Yemen. Chad and No athletes from Yemen have qualified for the Games, and the delegations from all four countries combined are projected to be 60 or fewer people total, with an additional 19 athletes actually participating in the Games.

These countries are more at risk, actually, since delegates will be returning home during their mosquito season, which means that virus-acquiring chances are higher. Additionally, its rare for these countries to have any travelers to Zika-affected countries, which means there could be a potential for outbreak, according to the CDC, although the risk is very low. 

"With the exception of these four countries, the Games do not pose a unique or substantive risk for mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus in excess of that posed by non-Games travel," said CDC researchers, according to Vox.

However, some are still wary of any travel to a Zika-affected country. Amir Attaran, professor of law and medicine at the University of Ottawa, is leading a coalition for the Games to be postponed. He said to the Wall Street Journal that the CDC has “the correct conclusion that the Rio Olympics pose a global health threat and can spread a virus that brain damages children.”

“It is still not too late to postpone the Rio Olympics,” he added.  

Sources: Vox, VICE, The Wall Street Journal / Photo credit: JorgeBRAZIL via ​Wikimedia Commons

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