The Summer Olympics And The Zika Virus — Is It Safe To Hold The Games In Brazil? image

Greater Boston (WGBH), June 1, 2016
Jim Braude, interviewing Executive Director Holly Fernandez Lynch

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Olympic athletes going to Rio de Janeiro might come home with more than just a medal.  Some public health officials are concerned about athletes, tourists and members of the media getting bitten by mosquitos carrying the Zika virus.  

Brazil has become the epi-center for this emerging disease -- one that can cause birth defects by severely stunting the development of a baby's head.  Although only about 20 percent of those exposed to the virus get sick -- everyone of those people becomes a carrier.

150 health professionals wrote this letter to the World Health Organization  -- taking the unprecedented step of asking the games either be postponed or moved -- saying, ''The Brazilian strain of Zika harms health in ways that science has not observed before. An unnecessary risk is posed when 500,000 foreign tourists from all countries attend the games, potentially acquire the strain, and return home to places where it can become endemic." Regardless of your stance on this, all can agree Brazil's efforts to host the Summer Games have been a mess. 

Despite the warnings from health officials, athletes are willing to take the chance to compete in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

To discuss the issue are Holly Fernandez-Lynch (@PetrieFlom), who signed the letter the W-H-O.  She is the executive director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard University and Andrew Campbell (@TheAndyCamps), a rower who is planning on competing in Rio de Janeiro this summer.

Watch the full interview!

bioethics global health infectious diseases international public health regulation