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Rio: What is Zika and Should We Worry?

mosquitoThe Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito with the most common symptoms being fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. There is little evidence to suggest horses can develop the disease.

The virus is related to dengue, yellow fever and West Nile virus. Although it was discovered in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947 and is common in Africa and Asia, it did not begin spreading widely in the Western Hemisphere until May, when an outbreak occurred in Brazil.

How is it transmitted? The virus is not contagious in the same way as a cold or a flu and there’s no need to put that medical mask on. Zika is mainly spread by mosquitoes, who will draw blood from a person with Zika, get infected, and then spread the virus to the next person they bite, so the most obvious protection is to avoid bites.  There is some research that suggests it can be transmitted by sexual contact but this is scant.

Will it affect the Rio Olympics? Or, is food and water more of a threat. Rio has well documented security and pollution issues and is significantly scarier than Sydney or London.

It would appear that teams are taking all necessary precautions so impact will be at a minimum, especially among our riders, who are not exposed to quite the same physical pressures as a track athletes might be. Every athletes worst nightmare is to be ill for the days of competition as illness and injury are the two biggest killers of performance.

The GB team as released: https://www.teamgb.com/news/meet-the-team-12-equestrian-riders-selected-for-rio-2016


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