Caution on Rio Olympics

Caution on Rio OlympicsCaution on Rio Olympics

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro starting August 5 could spark a “full-blown public health disaster.”  Since the Zika virus was first identified in Brazil in May 2015, the disease’s spread through Latin America has been declared a health emergency by the World Health Organization and the number of suspected cases in Rio is the highest in the country.

The continued presence of the virus ahead of the games has caused athletes and health specialists to question the risks involved in allowing them to go ahead with hundreds of thousands of spectators traveling to the city.

Writing in the Harvard Public Health Review, Dr Amir Attaran said the games could speed up the spread of the virus, the reported.  “Brazil’s Zika inevitably will spread globally given enough time – viruses always do.”

In particular, it cannot possibly help when an estimated 500,000 foreign tourists flock into Rio for the games, potentially becoming infected, and return to their homes where both local Aedes mosquitoes and sexual transmission can establish new outbreaks.

“All it takes is one infected traveler, a few viral introductions in a few countries, to make it a full-blown global health disaster.”