More Zika Fears as Scientists Call For 2016 Rio Olympics To Be Moved

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Photo Courtesy: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Just weeks after the Harvard Public Health Review called for the 2016 Rio Olympics to be cancelled due to the Zika virus, a group of 125 scientists and health experts have written a letter to World Health Organization Director Dr. Margaret Chan stating that the Olympics must be moved or postponed according to ABC News.

This news comes at the same time as Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has said that there is no public health reason to cancel or delay the Olympics.

Frieden, however, has stated that the risk is not zero that someone could contract the Zika virus while at the Olympics.

“Currently, many athletes, delegations, and journalists are struggling with the decision of whether to participate in the Rio 2016 Games,” the group wrote as reported by ABC News. “We agree with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommendation that workers should ‘Consider delaying travel to areas with active Zika virus transmission‘. If that advice were followed uniformly, no athlete would have to choose between risking disease and participating in a competition that many have trained for their whole lives.”

The group also states that there are historic levels of the birth defect microcephaly in Brazil, a defect linked to the Zika virus.

“That while Zika’s risk to any single individual is low, the risk to a population is undeniably high. Currently, Brazil’s government reports 120,000 probable Zika cases, and 1,300 confirmed cases of microcephaly (with another 3,300 under investigation), which is above the historical level of microcephaly,” the group said.

Zika has also been linked to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a sickness that struck Olympic star Rowdy Gaines back in 1991, and more recently former world-record holder Andy Coan.

“To prejudge that ‘there’s not going to be a lot of problems,’ before reviewing this evidence [on Zika virus effects] is extremely inappropriate of WHO, and suggests that a change in leadership may be required to restore WHO’s credibility,” the group wrote.

Full ABC News article.

5 comments

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