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Zika virus and the Olympics

02 July 2016
3 min read
Volume 24 · Issue 7

Earlier this year, Dr Amir Attaran (2016) demanded that the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games ‘be postponed, moved, or both as a precautionary concession’ against the spread of Zika virus (ZIKV). He cites the view of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that Olympism ‘seeks to create… social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles', and he asks, ‘how socially responsible or ethical is it to spread disease?’

ZIKV is mainly transmitted by female Aedes mosquitoes, especially Aedes aegypti, and its main risk is to pregnant women. In October 2015 the emergence of ZIKV in northern Brazil was associated with increased numbers of infants with microcephaly. By 3 February 2016, almost 4800 cases of microcephaly were notified in Brazil, compared with the expected 150−200 annual cases. Evidence indicates a causal link between ZIKV exposure among pregnant women and babies' development of microcephaly (Ladhani et al, 2016).

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