Athletes participating in the 2016 Olympic Games worry about the growing Zika Virus in Brazil

Eric First

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The 2016 Olympic Games will be held in Brazil.

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The 2016 Olympic Games will be held in Brazil.

The growing scare of the Zika virus in Brazil has left athletes from around the world contemplating whether they should participate in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics. Zika has quickly spread throughout Brazil, affecting many who live there. By traveling to participate in the 2016 Olympics, athletes from the United States of America are not only putting themselves at risk, but also everyone at home in the United States.

The 2016 Olympic games will pose a major health threat to some of the United States’ top athletes. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has written a “Zika Virus Disease – Frequently Asked Questions” packet located at for the American athletes. In this informative document, the CDC writes, “The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms typically begin two to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.” This short timeframe for the onset of the virus after contraction could be devastating for any athlete hoping to make a run at the gold medal. The CDC has also posted a Zika travel notice for all American citizens who plan on attending the Olympics.

The CDC also writes that only one in five people infected with Zika will actually experience any symptoms. This means that a majority of people will not realize that they have it and are carriers of the virus. Therefore, when the virus has been passed along to somebody who does not display any symptoms, it can be even more problematic.

While infected mosquitoes primarily pass along the disease, it can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse. As a result, both males and females who plan to have children in the future should strongly consider not attending the Olympics. Women who are already pregnant and contract Zika, and women who will become pregnant after contracting Zika, are at greater risk of having childbirth issues. For pregnant women with Zika, there have been an alarming amount of children born with the birth defect microcephaly. This results in the child having an abnormally small head and brain.

The Zika virus has already proven that it can spread at a dangerous pace during large events. Reuters wrote, “The Brazilian government suspects the virus was brought to Brazil during the 2014 soccer World Cup by a visitor from Africa or Oceania where Zika is endemic. An estimated 1.5 million Brazilians have caught Zika.”

In early February, 34-year-old goalkeeper of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team, Hope Solo, said to Sports Illustrated, “If I had to make the choice today, I wouldn’t go [to the Olympics]… I would never take the risk of having an unhealthy child.”

Many of the United States’ finest athletes will be faced with a similar decision as to whether they should compete in the Olympics in Brazil. As of now, with scientists and doctors lacking a preventative vaccination for the virus, it is too dangerous for the athletes from the United States to travel to Brazil. These athletes should showcase their talents at other events throughout the world where the threat of Zika is not as significant.