UN: Zika virus will be ‘way down’ before Rio hosts Olympics
By The Associated PressNews
The head of the World Health Organization’s Zika response team is predicting that Brazil will host a “fantastic Olympics” and that the mosquito-borne virus will be “way down” by the time the Summer Games begin in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 5.
Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO’s executive director for outbreaks and health emergencies, says the mosquito population is expected to drop off in the area around Rio since it will be the southern hemisphere’s winter by then. He said Olympic venues are also in a relatively confined area, making it easier for authorities to control the local mosquito population.
Brazil has recorded hundreds of thousands of cases of suspected Zika infection in recent months amid strong concerns that the virus could be linked to a spike in the number of abnormally small heads in newborn babies.
The Summer Olympics run from Aug.5-21.
Meanwhile, insect scientists at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., are looking to see whether mosquitoes native to Canada can become infected with the Zika virus and potentially transmit it to humans. The scientists have just received a shipment of the virus.
Brock University is the only academic institution in Canada with a CL3 containment lab that includes an insectary. The only other such facility in Canada is located at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.
The high-level containment lab allows research on mosquito-borne viruses to be safely conducted.
The research will be led by Fiona Hunter, a medical and veterinary entomologist who specializes in mosquitoes and other biting insects.
There has been an explosion of Zika infections in South and Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean since the first cases began showing up in Brazil last May.
The virus has been potentially linked to more than 4,400 cases of microcephaly in newborns born to Brazilian women who may have been infected while pregnant.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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