Zika threat is minimal, say Rio organisers

The organisers have also conveyed, through a power point presentation (PPT) that there was zero case of Zika in 44 Test Event Venues, out of 7000 athletes, 8000 volunteers and 2000 staff, in the run up to the Olympics.

Rio Olympics Chief Medical Officer Joao Grangeiro speaks during a briefing on Zika virus for international media in Rio de Janeiro.   -  Reuters

The organisers of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro have assured the world, after a detailed study, about the negligent risk of Zika virus, with a projected ratio of 1.8 people per million tourists, in August.

‘’The Games will take place during the winter season in Rio de Janeiro when the cooler and drier weather will reduce mosquito population. This will significantly lower the risk of mosquito-borne infections for visitors, such as Zika virus’’, says an ECDC (European Centre for Disease prevention and Control) study on the subject.

The organisers have also conveyed, through a power point presentation (PPT) that there was zero case of Zika in 44 Test Event Venues, out of 7000 athletes, 8000 volunteers and 2000 staff, in the run up to the Olympics.

Another health study by the State, quoted figures of four deaths out of 64,167 cases of dengue, two deaths from 4,177 cases of Chikungunya and no deaths out of 45,991 cases of Zika during the first five months of this year in Rio.

It was also pointed out in a presentation made this month that out of one million foreign tourists who visited Brazil during the World Cup football in 2014, only three cases of dengue were confirmed.

Despite circulating the assurances, the Sports Ministry in collaboration with the Health Ministry, has sent detailed advisory forthe Rio bound athletes, officials and others.

Use of various types of mosquito repellants, covering of arms with full sleeves during day, have been suggested as some measures to guard against the Zika virus, which is a mosquito borne disease.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito which carries the Zika virus, is also the carrier of infections like dengue and chikungunya.

Zika virus disease is reported to be mild, requiring no specific treatment, but it has the potential of neurological and auto-immune complications. People infected with Zika need plenty of rest, drink a lot of fluids and treat pain and fever with paracetamol, avoiding Aspirin.

Persons with diabetes, hypertension, chronic respiratory issues and immune disorders have been asked to seek medical advice prior to travel.

The World Health Organisation had stated last month that Zika was prevalent in 60 countries around the world, and 39 countries in the Americas, and thus ‘’there is no public health justification for postponing or cancelling the Games’’.

The major worry is for pregnant women and they have been advised to defer or cancel travel to the Zika affected areas. Microcephaly in the newborn and other neurological syndromes have been found to be temporarily associated with Zika virus infection, the elaborate government circular states.

Hepatitits, Influenza vaccine, if not done earlier, and vaccination for Yellow fever, 12 days prior to travel, have also been advised, in the message from the Chairman of the Medical Commission of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).