The ongoing spread of the notorious Zika Virus in Latin America and the Caribbean is keeping some people awake in search of an antidote, but even as this is going on, Kenya is apprehensive about its athletes taking part in the Rio Olympics because of the virus.
According to the athletics official in Kenya Kipchoge Keino, Kenya could skip the upcoming Rio Olympics in case Zika virus is to be declared serious.
One of Kenya’s leading local daily, the Standard, reported that Dr Keino, the National Olympic Committee of Kenya chairman, said the threat posed by the Zika virus scourge needs wide consultations.
“We will wait until the last minute. We are relying on advice from health organizations in Rio, Brazil, to enable us to make an informed decision. If the Zika virus is serious, then we will not attend the games. We will not expose our youths. The health of our people is more important than the games.”
Keino, the 1968 Olympic Games 1,500m champion added: “but if the Zika virus is not so dangerous, we will go for the games.”
But the athletes who are already in camp preparing for the games which are set to open on August 5, have little or no knowledge of the virus that is linked to babies being born with microcephaly- babies born with small and underdeveloped brains.
The Standard reported that the four-time world 3,000m steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi, who is the International Associations of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Athletes’ Representative, said he has never heard of the virus or even read about it. “Honestly, I don’t know about it unless I do my research,” Kemboi said.
Even as the sports stakeholders wait to discuss the matter with the Government, they hope that by the time of the games they will have been advised accordingly by the Government and medical experts.
Wesley Korir, the 2012 Boston Marathon winner and MP for Cherangany, said he had little information about the scourge. “I have little knowledge about it. I have just read about it in newspapers but I suggest that we take time to assess the situation in South America. The Government must come up and give athletes a clear direction on this. Korir said: “we need to understand the risks and evaluate them. I also think the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should carry out an assessment of the dangers of Zika virus. They should not risk the lives of thousands of athletes,” the Standard reported.
Some athletes like Mercy Cherono, the Commonwealth Games 5,000m champion, and Moses Tanui, the two-time Boston Marathon winner Moses are optimistic that a solution will have been found before the Olympics.
Men have been warned over Zika virus
Even as scientists and concerned stakeholders engage resources to come up with a solution to the menace, tests have indicated that men can also pass the virus to women and have been asked to exercise abstinence or use condoms.
This comes after the virus was found in semen. At the moment, the duration of persistence of Zika virus in semen remains unknown but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating new reports of possible sexual transmission of the Zika virus.
The CDC said in a statement that “new reports suggest sexual transmission may be a more likely means of transmission for Zika virus than previously considered."
"CDC and state public health departments are now investigating 14 new reports of possible sexual transmission of Zika virus, including several involving pregnant women," the CDC said in a statement.
Two of the new suspected sexual transmission cases are in women whose only known risk is sexual contact with an infected male partner who had recently traveled to an infected area, according to the CDC.
The CDC has since availed an interim guideline for prevention of sexual transmission of Zika.
Although Kenya is worried over the Zika virus, Rio organizing committee spokesman Mario Andrada said there would be no danger of Zika to athletes or travelers. He, however, advised that they should use protective measures, especially mosquito repellent, USA Today reported. “(Zika) will not affect our Games,” Andrada said.
Moreover, it is argued that the games will take place in the winter months of August and September and during this time the climate is not conducive for the mosquitoes.
Image Credit: BBC