A number of health officials are concerned about the potential public health risk of allowing the Rio Olympics to take place as scheduled in August. With growing concerns over the spread of Zika Virus, nearly 150 health experts have asked the World Health Organization to step in and block the Olympics from taking place. The group of health experts say that the games should be rescheduled or moved in the name of public safety.
The Daily Mail reports that nearly 150 health experts are calling for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro to be cancelled or moved as the Zika virus continues to spread in the area. The urging comes as Zika virus has been linked with birth defects such as microcephaly and possibly even adult onset of Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults.
Rio Olympics ‘should be postponed’ over Zika virus https://t.co/J9miAfOkXB
— Michele Verroken (@SportIntegrity) May 27, 2016
With the risks associated with Zika virus still continuing to surface, doctors are urging the Rio Olympics to be cancelled to ensure the virus does not spread rapidly across the globe. The idea of Zika being spread rapidly across the world due to the Rio Olympics first surfaced in the Harvard Public Health Review, in which a Canadian professor noted it could speed up the spread of the virus.
However, not everyone agrees with the assessment that Zika virus poses a serious health risk to the public, as it is mostly pregnant women who are affected by the virus. The U.S. CDC director, Dr. Tom Frieden, says there is no public health risk and that the Olympics should continue on as planned.
“There is no public health reason to cancel or delay the Olympics. There is no public health reason to cancel or delay the Olympics.”
Though confirmed health risks associated with Zika virus are limited to pregnant women, Frieden does not touch on the fact that studies have confirmed that Zika can be spread for an extended period of time via sexual relations from males to females. In fact, as the Inquisitr previously reported, the highest concentration of Zika virus was found in the testicles and the virus was found to be sexually transmittable.
— UK World News (@ukworldnews) May 27, 2016
Therefore, if a pregnant woman took precautions and did not attend the Rio Olympics but her sexual partner did attend, the Zika virus could be brought out of the country back to the woman following the event. In fact, the researchers claimed that the virus could even be transmitted via oral sex, and that the only way to ensure the virus was not passed on to a sexual partner would be to refrain from sex completely.
Though CDC director Frieden seems okay with the Rio Olympics continuing as planned, exposing Olympic athletes and event-goers to the virus, that hasn’t stopped him from noting that the “window is closing” to prepare for mosquito season in the United States to battle the virus. Puerto Rico seems of particular concern to Frieden, who says that we must act now in securing funds to battle the virus before it is too late.
“We need a robust response to protect American women and reduce the number of families affected (by Zika). Anything we don’t do now, we will regret later.”
With concerning statements such as, “anything we don’t do now, we will regret later” being made by Frieden regarding Zika virus, it seems slightly odd that he would advocate for the Rio Olympics to continue as scheduled because it is “not a public safety concern.” His push for over $1 billion in Zika virus funding for U.S. citizens includes the concerns over the virus being transmitted sexually, but his response to the call for the Rio Olympics to be moved seemingly neglects these research findings. Could the Rio Olympics be one of the things we “regret later” for not taking the Zika virus more seriously as a public safety risk?
What do you think about the Rio Olympics continuing despite the rapid spread of Zika virus in the country? Will we “regret later” allowing the Olympics to continue as planned if the virus does spread globally as a result? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
[Photo by Leo Correa/AP Photo]