This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 17 °C Wednesday 15 August, 2018
Advertisement

The Olympics won't be moved - despite doctors' saying it could cause a Zika epidemic

Nearly 1,300 babies have been born in Brazil with the irreversible defect.

Image: David Goldman

THE WORLD HEALTH Organisation has rejected a call by doctors and medical professionals to move or postpone this summer’s Olympic Games.

Over 150 medical professionals had penned an open letter calling for the games to be moved due to fears over an epidemic of the Zika virus.

“Our greater concern is for global health. The Brazilian strain of Zika virus harms health in ways that science has not observed before,” said the letter, signed by experts in the United States, Britain, Canada, Norway, the Philippines, Japan, Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, and Lebanon, among others.

An unnecessary risk is posed when 500,000 foreign tourists from all countries attend the Games, potentially acquire that strain, and return home to places where it can become endemic.

“Should that happen to poor, as-yet unaffected places (e.g., most of South Asia and Africa) the suffering can be great,” the letter added.

Zika can cause birth defects, including a devastating syndrome known as microcephaly in which babies are born with unusually small heads and brains.

Nearly 1,300 babies have been born in Brazil with the irreversible defect since the mosquito-borne Zika began circulating there last year.

However, the WHO says that the games and the Paralympics, which run from 5 August to 18 September would not exacerbate the outbreak of the disease.

“Brazil is one of almost 60 countries and territories which to date report 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 events “will take place during Brazil’s wintertime when there are fewer active mosquitoes and the risk of being bitten is lower,” the WHO said this month.

And on Thursday, the top US public health official, Tom Frieden, said “there is no public health reason to cancel or delay the Olympic Games.”

Read: Gunmen run wild in Rio tourist spots ahead of Olympics

Read: Vintage plane crashes into river in New York City

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

Read next:

COMMENTS (17)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel