UN: Zika virus will be ‘way down’ before Games

  • By JAMEY KEATEN
  • Sunday, February 21, 2016 1:04am
  • News

GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization’s Zika response team is predicting that Brazil will host a “fantastic Olympics” and that the mosquito-borne virus will be “way down” by the time the Summer Games begin in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 5.

Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO’s executive director for outbreaks and health emergencies, said Friday at a news conference that the mosquito population is expected to drop off around when Rio hosts the games, since it will be winter in the southern hemisphere.

Rio’s Olympic venues are also in a relatively confined area, he noted, making it easier for authorities to control the local mosquito population.

“Brazil is going to have a fantastic Olympics, and it’s going to be a successful Olympics, and the world is going to go there,” Aylward said. “I just wish I was going there, but there’s not going to be a lot of problems there by then, so I’ll be somewhere else.”

Aylward also pointed to the “probability” that the Zika virus will have “gone through” a large slice of the country’s population by then, so many Brazilians might have developed an immunity to the disease by the time of the Aug.5-21 games.

Zika, however, is just the latest cloud hanging over Brazil ahead of South America’s first Olympics. The country is coping with its worst recession in 100 years, impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff and a wide-ranging corruption scandal centered on the state-controlled oil-and-gas giant Petrobras.

Brazil has recorded more than 1 million suspected Zika infections in recent months amid strong concerns that the virus could be linked to a spike in the number of babies born with abnormally small heads — microcephaly — and to a rare neurological syndrome that can cause temporary paralysis in people of all ages.

In Brazil on Friday, ministers, state governors, health authorities and members of the armed forces visited schools throughout the country to involve students in the nationwide campaign to eradicate the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads the Zika virus.

WHO has declared a global health emergency due to the virus, saying it could produce as many as 4 million cases in the next year. The mosquitoes that spread Zika — which also spread dengue and yellow fever — are entrenched across the region and in a wide belt around the globe, mostly in tropical areas.

Zika has spread to 36 countries, mostly in Latin America, and Aylward pointed to the “the explosive spread we’ve seen over the last 24 months.” He said the “overall goal” was to reduce the mosquito population.

There is no licensed treatment or vaccine for Zika. WHO and U.S. health authorities have recommended that pregnant women postpone traveling to infected areas and their partners use condoms or abstain from sex if they live in or have visited Zika-affected areas.

___

AP Sports Writer Stephen Wilson in London contributed.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 20

Here’s what to expect this week.

Bartlett Regional Hospital’s crisis stabilization center during its unveiling on June 14, 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital shuts down programs at recently opened Aurora Behavioral Health Center

Crisis stabalization program halted at center due to lack of funds and staff, officials say.

A car on Gastineau Avenue is partially buried by a mudslide that occurred during record rainfall on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Photo by Simba Blackman)
New July rainfall record set for Juneau with a week to go; Suicide Basin nears 2023 fill level

No more heavy storms expected this month, according to forecaster.

The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. Board of Trustees votes for a new chair and vice chair during a meeting in Fairbanks on Wednesday. (Screenshot from APFC livestream)
Ellie Rubenstein resigns from Permanent Fund board, Ethan Schutt displaced as chair in wake of email allegations

Trustees elect new chair, vice chair Wednesday morning; Rubenstein announces resignation hours later

Police and other emergency officials treat Steven Kissack after he was shot on Front Street on Monday, July 15, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Names of officers involved in death of Steven Kissack released, along with more details of standoff

JPD states Kissack threatened to kill officers; one officer who fired gun cleared in 2016 shooting.

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, speaks on Jan. 4, 2024, at a town hall meeting on the possible Albertsons-Kroger grocery merger. The meeting was held at the Teamsters Local 959 headquarters in Anchorage. Peltola said on Tuesday she has not decided whether to support her party’s likely candidate, Vice President Kamala Harris. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Rep. Mary Peltola withholds support for Kamala Harris, is ‘keeping an open mind’

Congresswoman says she’s considering Harris presidency’s affect on Alaska as an oil-dependent state.

People arrive for a service at Resurrection Lutheran Church on Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Lawsuit: Resurrection Lutheran Church leaders have been ousted, clarity in ‘ministerial work’ needed

Pastor Karen Perkins, two others targeted in long-brewing feud at church known for helping homeless.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, July 21, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, July 20, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read