The Rio 2016 Olympics Games Could Trigger 'Global Zika Catastrophe'

University of Ottawa professor and public health specialist Amir Attaran said in an article published in the Harvard Public Health Review.

World Health Organization declared the explosive spread of Zika in the Americas to be a global emergency in February and the virus has now been proven to cause a range of severe birth defects, including brain-damaged babies born with abnormally small heads and a rare neurological disorder that can cause temporary paralysis and is sometimes fatal.

For the record, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to consider not attending the Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee, which follows the WHO's advice, said it has no plans to relocate or postpone the games.

"The clear statements from World Health Organization that there should be no restrictions on travel and trade means there is no justification for canceling or delaying or postponing or moving the Rio Games".

Prof. Attaran said that the influx of visitors to Brazil would result in the avoidable births of malformed babies. He doesn't want the games to be canceled, but argues they should be delayed or moved.

The World Health Organization, which in February declared Zika a public health emergency of global concern, says Zika usually results in mild symptoms and claims it's working with the Brazilian government to mitigate the risk to athletes and tourists.

The impeachment battle is just one of many distractions making South America's first Olympics the most contentious in decades.

Sports Minister Leonardo Picciani took up the job Thursday after interim president Michel Temer took power from sidelined leftist leader Dilma Rousseff, whose popularity nosedived amid a deep recession and massive corruption scandal.

Attaran further suggested the games could be hosted by another city in Brazil where the illness is less of a threat. But not everyone is convinced the Zika threat will subside entirely by August.

Attaran lays out key reasons for why moving the Olympics out of Rio is a necessary precaution.

In January, the International Olympic Committee said the Olympics would be safe for athletes and visitors because the games take place during the southern hemisphere's winter months, when the mosquito population is smaller.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Minichiello said: "There's a duty of care from me to Jessica, as a coach to an athlete". In the light of such proclamations, the WHO's feeble response (a joint statement with the Pan American Health Organization released Thursday) offered that "the games will take place during Brazil's wintertime when the risk of being bitten is lower".

US women's team goalkeeper Hope Solo said in February that she would not go to the Rio Olympics if she had to choose then, citing worries about Zika.

'I wouldn't send her into a war zone to compete.

Allen County's health commissioner isn't ready to say let's call off the Olympics, but she says it needs to be strongly considered. It's also potentially linked to neurological disorders in some infected children and adults. The greatest risk is for pregnant women, though, whose babies can suffer microcephaly and brain damage. "I believe we can proceed with confidence, knowing that we have appropriate guidelines and preventative measures in place".

Still, Bogoch said that since most people traveling to Rio wouldn't be affected by Zika, it would be an overreaction to move or postpone the games.

"At the Olympics, unlike the World Cup, you have a lot of events going on simultaneously", Praca said.

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