Olympics, Zika and Health

Olympics, Zika and Health May 31, 2016

Thoughts? Alarmist? Politics? Serious?

Source:

The summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro should be postponed or moved “in the name of public health” due to the widening Zika outbreak in Brazil, more than 100 prominent doctors and professors said Friday in an open letter to the World Health Organization.

“We make this call despite the widespread fatalism that the Rio 2016 Games are inevitable or ‘too big to fail,’ ” the writers said in the letter addressed to WHO Director-General Margaret Chan. “Our greater concern is for global health. The Brazilian strain of Zika virus harms health in ways that science has not observed before.”
The letter shows a growing gap within the medical field on what to do about the Games. On Thursday, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “There is no public health reason to cancel or delay the Olympics.”
The CDC’s current recommendation is that pregnant women should not travel to areas where the virus is spreading and that men with the virus who have pregnant partners should use condoms when having sex for the duration of the pregnancy.
“We’re working closely with the USOC and Brazilian health authorities, and will update our guidance if needed,” Frieden said in a statement in response to the new letter.
The WHO released a statement saying that based on its current assessment, “canceling or changing the location of the 2016 Olympics will not significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus.”
The organization noted that Brazil is one of almost 60 countries that have reported continuing transmission of Zika by mosquitoes.
“People continue to travel between these countries and territories for a variety of reasons. The best way to reduce risk of disease is to follow public health travel advice,” the WHO said.
The International Olympic Committee has said it has no plans to cancel or postpone the Games.
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