Low Risk for Zika Virus Spread by Olympics Attendees

Summary and Comment |
July 29, 2016

Low Risk for Zika Virus Spread by Olympics Attendees

  1. Stephen G. Baum, MD

A Zika transmission model predicts that very few cases would be imported to nonendemic areas.

  1. Stephen G. Baum, MD

Athletes and visitors planning to attend the Brazil Olympics have expressed worry about contracting Zika virus (ZIKV), and some have canceled their travel plans.

To predict the chances that travelers returning from the Olympics will introduce ZIKV into nonendemic countries, investigators employed a mathematical model of ZIKV transmission in Brazil using data on the number of non-Brazilian attendees (350,000 to 500,000), the probability of becoming infected while in Brazil (1 in 6200 to 1 in 56,300), the average length of stay in Brazil (16 days), the average time from infection to clearance of the virus from the blood (9.9 days), and the attendees' countries of origin (30% from Latin America).

The researchers calculated that 6 to 80 ZIKV infections would occur among travelers and that 3 to 37 returning travelers would be infected, 70% of whom would be returning to nonendemic areas.

Comment

Although this model is encouraging and certainly provides some basis for decision making, some of the underlying assumptions are already outdated (e.g., that only male-to-female transmission occurs) and others may be irrelevant (e.g., blood clearance time may not equal sperm or vaginal fluid clearance time).

Editor Disclosures at Time of Publication

  • Disclosures for Stephen G. Baum, MD at time of publication Consultant / Advisory board Clinical Infectious Diseases (Editorial Advisory Board) Speaker’s bureau UpToDate (author) Editorial boards Medical Letter (Board of Directors, Chairman)

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