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Zika Virus and the Olympics in Brazil

2016-02-28

May 2015: Zika virus is first detected in Brazil. Zika is a new mosquito-borne virus spreading across South America which has infected at least 1.5 million Brazilians.

August 5-12, 2016, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: the Olympics, held every four years, a series of athletic contests in a nearly comprehensive range of sporting disciplines.

The CDC has announced an emergency in relation to the Zika virus, which is spreading rapidly across Brazil.  The Center recommends against pregnant women travelling to the areas affected by the spread of the virus, notably Brazil and the island of Tobago.  Anyone who does travel to these areas should take special precautions against mosquito bites, including restricting travel to air-conditioned hotels and wearing repellent on exposed skin.

Further detail on the CDC’s announcement that nine pregnant women had tested positive for Zika virus: they were in a group of 257 women who had requested testing, and represented  three percent of them.  Of those nine, one had Zika symptoms during her first trimester, and gave birth to a severely microcephalic child.  Two had Zika symptoms late in pregnancy, and gave birth to normal babies.  Five others had Zika symptoms during the first trimester, and all but one had miscarriages or abortions; the last one is continuing in utero (still pregnant.)  One more woman who had Zika symptoms late in pregnancy is still pregnant.

Tentatively, one may offer the suggestion that Zika infection during the first trimester is likely to cause severe disability, but infection late in pregnancy is less likely to be dangerous.

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