With the Olympic Games less than four months away, there is grave concern from athletes, attendees and organizers over the growing health concern, the Zika virus.
Why Zika is a Concern
Initially the virus began when a person was infected by a mosquito. The symptoms are usually mild, making it difficult to diagnose. The serious factor associated with the virus is that it can cause microcephaly in pregnant women and newborns. Microcephaly is a condition that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and can result in death or severe disabilities.
Difficult to Contain
Zika can also be transmitted sexually. When considering that most people that are infected are unaware of their condition, this makes the virus especially difficult to contain. It is not surprising that athletes are concerned and potential attendees are canceling their plans.
The Olympic Committee has a plan to combat Zika. They claim that winter conditions will be cooler and dryer and therefor would discourage mosquito infestations. There is a plan to inspect all Olympic venues daily to ensure there are no insects. However, even if venues are clear a palpable nervousness remains. Officials are worried that additional Zika cases will be brought into the country from infected travelers, and then passed around through mosquito bites.
Other Events Spurred
The Olympics isn’t the only event that has been affected. Considering all of the canceled Caribbean cruises or spring break trips to Latin America, the Zika issue is staggering. Weddings and honeymoons have been canceled and plans rerouted or postponed.
What Can Be Done
There is no plan to move the Olympics, even though Zika isn’t the only issue plaguing Brazil. An economic recession, political scandal and water issues are all on the minds of Officials. There is one report that ticket prices are so low because locals simply can’t afford them and there is a plan to distribute free tickets to area schools.
With large international events comes a large group of workers and staff that simply cannot afford not to travel. Zika is of concern to pregnant women or women wishing to conceive. If you are not a pregnant women and plan to be in a Zika infected area the Center for Disease Control recommends the following precautions:
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
Stay in places with air conditioning or window and door screens to keep mosquitos inside
Sleep under a mosquito net
Use insect repellents that have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency
The world of international events will not collapse under a global health crisis. If all travelers can take the proper precautions hopefully spred of the Zika virus will be stemmed and will make travel safer for everyone.
CBS, CDC, Fortune, NPR