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Should Olympians be Nervous about Zika Virus at Events?

Should Olympians be Nervous about Zika Virus at Events?

Once American cyclist Tejay van Garderen saw that his pregnant wife could be affected by the Zika virus in Brazil, he quickly withdrew from the Olympic games. After his withdraw, other athletes such as Pau Gasol are also considering not attending the Olympics because of the Zika virus outbreak. Although the virus is scary and still unfamiliar, extensive research has made Zika easier to understand.

The mosquito-borne virus can cause neurological disorders as well as birth defects for pregnant women. Once bitten the virus will show symptoms similar to the flu: pain in muscles, fever, vomiting, and eye redness. The chances of someone getting the virus at the Olympic games however, is small.

Controversy around this situation has given mixed information to the public, confusing them even more on the subject. There have been letters written by medical professionals who claim the games should be postponed or moved, while others say it’s safe to attend.

Minister of Brazil, Leonardo Picciani said there would be close to zero cases of the virus during the games despite worrisome athletes and fans. So far there has been 43 test events with 7,000 athletes, all of which did not get Zika or any other disease. As of April there were about 4,300 cases, which have now fallen to 700 in May with expected numbers to drop even more in the coming months.

Statistics from Reuters show that if 500,000 people attended the Olympics, about only five to 15 people would be infected with the virus. Another study by the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil also projected the number to be at about 16 cases of Zika during the Olympics. Not only are people scared about contracting the virus, but there is also the issue of it spreading to other countries. A study done in the U.S. found that the Olympics would account for a .25 percent risk of the virus spreading.

With all the mixed feelings about the virus, it’s hard to say what Olympians should do about this entire situation. Although numbers are low for contracting Zika, no one wants to be apart of the 15-16 people that may catch the virus. If you do decide to go to the games, take the proper precautions such as sleeping under a mosquito net, having repellent spray at all times, and be mindful of sitting water where mosquitos breed.


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