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Cases of Zika Virus Decline and Expectation Is That Few Tourists Will Be Infected

08/01/2016 - 11h24




It is likely that not even half a dozen tourists will have the zika virus while they are in Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games. The low risks at this time of year, however, are not an assurance that people should neglect basic precautions, as very little is still known about the virus.

The reassuring information comes from calculations such as those by USP epidemiologist Eduardo Massad, and were attested by other scientists investigating the theme.

The epidemics took the country by surprise last year and led to an increase in the number of cases of microcephaly – the reason why the world has one eye on the Olympics and another on the zika virus.

Massad's estimates show that 3.2 tourists in every 100,000 will be infected by the virus. As 500,000 foreigners are expected to arrive in Rio for the Olympic Games, the number of infected people could be 16 in all. Considering that only 20% of those infected actually manifest the symptoms, the number of sick people is likely to reach only three or four.

The reasons for the low risk are mainly the cooler temperatures and the low number of mosquitoes.

Maurício Nogueira, a virologist at the Rio Preto Medical School, says, however, that there are no guarantees that the expectations will be confirmed. "The mathematical model is excellent, but I have reservations. If everything is right, the numbers don't match. We have had more cases than the proposed model shows."

What could make the situation worse is the possible transmission of the zika virus by normal mosquitoes - and the hypothesis has gained support. It is not known if or how much the normal mosquito could contribute to spread the zika virus.

Specialists have brought up yet another hypothesis which is the potential transmission of zika through sexual intercourse. Although the transmission of the disease through mosquito bites is seasonal, the same does not occur through sexual contact.

Translated by THOMAS MUELLO

Read the article in the original language

Paulo Whitaker/Reuters
Genetically modified male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are released in Piracicaba, Brazil
Genetically modified male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are released in Piracicaba, Brazil

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