World Health Organization to assess Zika impact on Olympics in Brazil

Posted June 12, 2016

It has been determined that Zika is a cause of microcephaly, a rare birth defect characterized by unusually small head size and potentially severe developmental problems.

In the USA, there have been 11 cases of sexually-transmitted Zika virus since the current epidemic started. The advisory urges that women planning to become pregnant wait at least eight weeks before trying to conceive if they or their partner live in - or are returning from - areas where the Zika virus is active.

Most people infected by Zika suffer only minor symptoms including fever, a rash and muscle or joint pain.

"With immediate effect, my office contacted the individual and we are in ongoing communication to ascertain the exact details of the individual's travel history, onset of symptoms and location of stay during the visit to the Islands including other pertinent information that will assist in this investigation to confirm the alleged exposure to the Zika virus in the Cayman Islands". The man had high levels of the virus in his semen and urine, but none in his blood or saliva. The woman had traces of the virus in her saliva and urine, but not in her vaginal fluid or blood.

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The Zika virus' main method of transmission is through the bite of an infected mosquito - Aedes albopictus or Aedes aegypti. Several countries affected by the Zika outbreak, including El Salvador, have issued similar warnings to their residents.

For awhile now, experts studying the babies born to women who were infected with Zika in pregnancy have warned that microcephaly appears to be the tip of a much larger iceberg.

Although Zika cannot be compared to other infectious diseases like Ebola or SARS, the main concern in Brazil is that any of the expected 16,000 athletes or close to 600,000 tourists could get infected and eventually spread the disease in other countries.

In addition, four dependents of servicemembers - which can include spouses and children - and two military retirees contracted the illness, according to the report.

"Further analysis of data from cohorts of pregnant women with Zika virus infection are needed to understand all outcomes of Zika virus infection in pregnancy", they added.

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She pointed out that the experts' job was to "provide public health advice and technical guidance to the government of Brazil and the Rio 2016 Local Organising Committee on the public health risks of hosting a mass gathering such as the Olympics, and the recommended health systems that should be in place to host a safe and healthy event".

On Friday, experts sent a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine about the new concern and described a possible case in France.

It will be winter in Brazil when the Olympics begin, so the mosquitoes that carry the virus will be less abundant, World Health Organization experts said.

The primary mosquito that transmits Zika virus, Aedes aegypti, is found in the tropics and southern United States, but it is not known to be established in Ohio.

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