Olympians to Be Guinea Pigs in US Zika Study

     (CN) — Researchers will study some U.S. athletes for the Zika virus during the Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Brazil, in order to learn more about the mosquito-borne virus.
     The National Institutes of Health announced the study Tuesday, following growing concern among athletes over risks associated with Zika. The virus has been linked to severe birth defects and can be transmitted sexually to unwitting partners.
     “We partnered with the U.S. Olympic Committee to improve knowledge of the dynamics of Zika infection, so that we can better protect the health of athletes and staff who will participate in the 2016 Games,” said NIH researcher Carrie Byington, who will lead the study. “This ongoing relationship also opens avenues for long-term research that promises to benefit not only the Americas, but also other regions facing the emergence of the virus.”
     Various health officials and organizations have recommended that pregnant women avoid traveling to areas experiencing active local transmission.
     Golfers Rory McIlroy and Jason Day are among the athletes who have withdrawn from the 2016 summer Olympics over Zika concerns.
     National Basketball Association stars Stephen Curry and LeBron James have stated that they will not play on the U.S. Olympic basketball team, though not due to the Zika virus.
     “I knew obviously the developments and kind of understanding the problem of the Zika virus, but it had no bearing on my decision,” Curry said in June.
     Participants will provide samples of bodily fluids for routine testing, which will help to determine risk factors for infection, and where and how long the virus persists in a person’s body.
     The researchers aim to enroll at least 1,000 athletes, coaches and staff.

%d bloggers like this: