Zika Virus: MLB Players Balk At Games Scheduled For Puerto Rico As CDC Issues New Guidelines For Worker Protection

Anya Wassenberg - Author

Dec. 13 2016, Updated 3:38 a.m. ET

Fears over the Zika virus may put a hold on Major League Baseball games in Puerto Rico, according to published reports. The news comes as the CDC issued new guidelines on protecting workers from exposure to the troubling mosquito-borne infection.

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With the mosquito season just getting into gear throughout the United States, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued new guidelines on how to prevent Zika virus infection in workers. The Zika virus guidelines are designed specifically for outdoor workers and include measures for control and prevention of transmission. Recommended measures include a range of strategies such as ways of controlling or eliminating mosquito populations as well as protecting women who may become pregnant while working in conditions where Zika virus exposure is a possibility. The CDC Fact Sheet also includes advice on choosing effective insect repellents.

MLB is one high profile industry that is being forced to confront the threat of Zika virus exposure to its employees. Concern has been growing over a two-game series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Miami Marlins scheduled to take place in Puerto Rico at the end of May. Puerto Rico, along with most other Caribbean nations, has been hard hit by Zika virus infection. As reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, players are concerned about the threat. Reliever Tony Watson has been gathering information on the Zika virus threat for the MLB Players Association.

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“We don’t want to go down there, because there’s too much risk. We don’t have all the facts either. We’ll see where it goes.”

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The stream of news and body of research into the Zika virus is growing all the time. Just last week, health officials in Dallas confirmed the first case of sexual transmission of the Zika virus between one partner who had traveled to an area where there is known Zika activity and a partner who had stayed at home.

Along with Friday’s release of the worker protection guidelines, the CDC announced the creation of the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry. The U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry will collect information about pregnant women with a Zika virus infection in the United States. The data on the infection and how it progresses in each patient will be made available to doctors and other healthcare providers in order to help them make treatment choices.

The Zika virus has spread rapidly throughout South and Central America and through the United States. Mosquitoes which are native to some areas of the U.S. may become infected with the Zika virus, along with the threat from travelers returning from affected areas.

The Zika virus is present in the blood during the first week after infection. It is during that period that it can be transmitted via mosquito bite and contact, which carries the Zika virus from an infected person to a new host. It can also be spread through direct contact with blood, semen, or other bodily fluid.

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While most cases clear up without the patient knowing they’ve been infected, in some cases the Zika virus causes a range of typically mild to moderate symptoms that include fever, rashes, and joint pain. In pregnant women, however, transmission to the fetus can affect brain, eye, or ear development, and may result in a condition known as microcephaly or an abnormally small brain.

Mosquito control remains an effective tool in the fight against Zika virus infection. As reported in The Telegraph, Brazilian officials have taken a new and high-tech step in the fight against the Zika virus. The Mosquito Killer Board uses lactic acid solution, which smells like human sweat, to attract and then trap the Zika virus carrying bugs on a large surface similar to a regular billboard.

Brazil has been among the hardest hit by the Zika virus, with more than 860 confirmed cases of microcephaly believed to be caused by the infection.

[Image by Mario Tama/Getty Images]


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