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Health

Zika may have small impact on Olympics

Opening sequence

Opening sequence

Health

Zika may have small impact on Olympics

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COMING UP:Zika may have small impact on Olympics

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Transcript

00:00:01
>> As the debate heats up over whether to hold the summer's Olympic games in Rio amid a Zika outbreak, scientists are trying to provide the first quantitative assessments of how big a risk the virus poses to visitors. Reuters spoke with several researchers in Brazil and the U.S. who say the threat may not be as high as originally feared.
00:00:18
Reuters health editor Michele Gershberg.>> The conclusion is that they feel there will be only a small number of additional cases of Zika infection that arise out of the influx of visitors to Rio during the Olympics. And that could be anywhere from one to a couple of dozen extra cases of Zika infection.
00:00:38
And that given the amount of international travel to and from 30 countries and territories, more than 30 countries and territories, in Latin America and the Caribbean where Zika transmission is active. But that is a very small percentage.>> One research group modeled its projections on the spread of Dengue, carried by the same mosquito that transmits Zika during the 2014 World Cup.
00:01:00
Only three new cases of that virus were found. Another report said, visitors to the games are likely to stay in areas that had better protections against the insects, further cutting the risk of infection. Still, with the World Health Organization declaring a global emergency over Zika's impact in Brazil, and confirmation the virus can cause a rare and devastating birth defect in pregnant women, concerns remain.
00:01:21
More than 200 health experts, bioethicists, and lawyers, signed a letter last month, asking to cancel, postpone or relocate the Olympics. And Gershberg says the recent research doesn't change their opinion.>> And they're saying that we can argue about how many people, extra people, may become infected with Zika or not.
00:01:39
But what we can't argue is that there is a risk that any one of those people may go back to their country and become a mode of transmission, or help accelerate transmission, in that home country. And they point to what our understanding of the current Zika outbreak is that one person traveled to Brazil with the Zika infection and became sort of the starting point for the current outbreak that is now affecting hundreds of thousands of people.
00:02:06
>> Some 500,000 athletes and fans are expected to attend the Olympics in August, while the WHO originally said calls to cancel the games were unjustified. The agency will meet this month to reassess the risk posed by Zika. It will be up to the International Olympic Committee, though, to make a final decision.
00:02:22
But one high-profile name is not taking any chances. NBC Today show host Savannah Guthrie, on Tuesday announcing she's pregnant and saying will not travel to Rio to cover the games.