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US health officials address Zika concerns ahead of Rio games

US health officials address Zika concerns ahead of Rio games

Brazil

The Rio Olympics have been marred by the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus that has caused a wave of birth defects in Brazil. There are concerns the virus could affect athletes and visitors.

The United States top health officials have said that athletes planning to participate in the upcoming games should adhere to information given to them on the virus.

“It’s very difficult to give advice to people who’ve devoted the last x number of years training for that, so that’s a very personal decision. What we can do, what the CDC and NIH can do is to just give them the facts and the evidence based information,” Dr Anthony Fauci, The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said during a press conference held at the White House.

It's very difficult to give advice to people who've devoted the last x number of years training for that, so that's a very personal decision. What we can do, what the CDC and NIH can do is to just give them the facts and the evidence based information

Having won majority of the medals in the last games in London 2012, the US team displays an important presence in the Rio Olympics.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged pregnant women to avoid travelling to areas with the Zika virus as it has been linked to microcephaly.

‘‘The issue that we are focusing on is the issue with pregnant women and even there if you follow the guidelines that are already out by the CDC…and men who go there and might come back to the United States and might have a wife or a sexual partner who is pregnant to be very careful that they don’t transmit it so those guideline stay where they are and I think those are the things that people should consider when they are going to make their decision,’‘ Fauci said.

Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee is confident that the games will not be affected by the virus.

Nevertheless, a number of nations have threatened to boycott the games in August as the virus has infected about 1.5 million people in Brazil.

Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a global emergency and further warned that it could affect as many as 4 million people this year.