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USRowing Statement Regarding Zika Virus

by Allison Frederick Müller, allison@usrowing.org | Feb 08, 2016
Over the past week, media attention has focused on the current Zika virus outbreak in South America, Central America and the Caribbean. It is understandable that members of the rowing community intending to travel to Brazil for the Olympic Games have concerns and questions about the health risks posed by this virus.
Over the past week, media attention has focused on the current Zika virus outbreak in South America, Central America and the Caribbean. It is understandable that members of the rowing community intending to travel to Brazil for the Olympic Games have concerns and questions about the health risks posed by this virus.

The health and welfare of USRowing athletes is always a top priority. Our goal is to create policies and plans that promote protecting the health of our athletes while preserving the athlete’s opportunity to pursue their Olympic dream. The USRowing medical committee, led by Dr. Jo Hannafin, which advises staff on medical and health issues, is actively engaged in the discussion and development of a Zika virus plan.

Currently, the medical committee and staff are gathering information and assessing the risks prior to establishing a protocol of preventative measures. Our partners at the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), International Rowing Federation (FISA), International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) will continue to serve as resources. The situation is being closely monitored through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the organizing officials in Rio, the World Health Organization and infectious disease specialists with expertise in tropical diseases including the Zika virus. USRowing intends to follow the CDC guidelines related to travel to Brazil.

The IOC has put a plan in place for the Games venues in the lead-up to and at Games time, which will see them inspected on a daily basis in order to ensure that any puddles of stagnant water – where the mosquitos breed – are removed, therefore minimizing the risk of athletes and visitors coming into contact with mosquitoes. Rio 2016 will also continue to follow the virus prevention and control measures provided by the authorities, and will provide the relevant guidance to Games athletes and visitors.

The IOC also released the following guidelines related to the risk of exposure through mosquito bites:

“All travellers to areas with active Zika transmission should take mosquito bite avoidance measures, during both daytime and night-time hours (but especially during mid-morning and from late afternoon to dusk, when the mosquitos are most active). These measures include wearing appropriate clothing with long trousers and sleeves and using insect repellents. Travellers should get additional advice from their local health authorities.”

The Zika situation in Brazil is dynamic and constantly evolving. The CDC website is a useful tool for up to date information. In addition, USRowing will continue to publish any updates from the IOC, IPC and USOC on this issue.
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