With Brazil the epicentre of the Zika virus outbreak, several world-class athletes and Olympians are voicing their concerns over the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Doctors warn that such a gathering of people in Rio could have devastating worldwide consequences while the Zika infection continues to spread.
The infection, known for causing microcephaly and other abnormalities in newborns, is extremely difficult to detect in adults.
In a report written by Dr Amir Attaran for the Harvard Public Health Review, staging the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro could lead to a “full-blown global health disaster”.
“In particular, it cannot possibly help when an estimated 500,000 foreign tourists flock into Rio for the Games, potentially becoming infected, and returning to their homes where both local Aedes mosquitoes and sexual transmission can establish new outbreaks,” Dr Attaran warns.
“All it takes is one infected traveller: indeed, phylogenetic and molecular clock analyses establish that Brazil’s cataclysmic outbreak stems from a single viral introduction event, likely between May and December 2013. A few viral introductions of that kind, in a few countries, or maybe continents, would make a full-blown global health disaster.”
Fewer than 100 days are left until the Games’ opening ceremony, which leaves the athletes with little time to decide if participating is a risk worth taking.