When is it worth going or staying at home?
There is a lot of controversy occurring with the upcoming Rio Olympics. The threat of the Zika virus has caused many well known athletes to withdraw from participating in the Olympics out of fear for their health and future family well-being. No one should ever be criticized for making the best decisions for themselves and their family, but is this the best decision? Having traveled the world trying to bring health care and love to the less fortunate has given me a very unique perspective to this discussion.
There is no such thing as being fully safe, whether you are going to the mailbox or traveling around the world. There are risks, but many of these risks can be easily managed with the proper planning and protection. Zika is a virus that is spread by mosquito’s similar to other diseases like Malaria, Dengue Fever, etc. Areas with a high propensity of these mosquitoes are frequented by many seeking to help those inflicted. I personally have worked for months in these areas and always made sure that we had the proper repellent, medications, etc. to ensure that we stayed well so that we could help those that were not. The same will be true for Rio, but we need to clear the fog to look at the facts…..
First and most importantly, the Rio Olympics will be occurring in the winter for Brazil. This automatically cuts down on the number of mosquito’s that will be present. Yes, its not a mountainous region, but there will be a significant reduction of potential insects that could cause trouble. Areas that still have risks will still require the use of repellents and the various Olympic Organizations will go out of there way to reduce the potential for the few stragglers that might be around. That being said, the risk is very slight that anyone will even be bitten by a Zika or any other disease carrying mosquito. But what if they are?
We already have great prophylactic medications to address Malaria, Dengue Fever, and many other tropical diseases. These should offer little concern for those visiting. Zika is a little different in that we have not come up with a cure yet, but we do know that it is not something that will last a lifetime. Anyone that travels to a Zika area will need to take precautions upon return to have safe sex for a short period of time. Yes, this is inconvenient, but everyone that goes to Rio will need to weigh short-term inconvenience vs. the lifetime experience of competing and visiting the Olympic Games. For more detailed information about the prevention of Zika and other diseases visit the Center for Disease Control.
Everyone will have to make their own decisions about participating in the Rio Olympic Games. There are plenty of prophylactics available that will help deal with Milaria, Yellow Fever, etc. No there is not a preventative for Zika, but you can limit any chance of getting the virus and even if you do, precaution will eliminate its ability to cause harm. When you consider the amount of training, and work that have gone into making it to your dream, I would not hesitate to go and participate. The risk is minimal and if precautions are taken, everyone can go and have a great experience. No one wants to put themselves at risk, but with some minor inconvenience these athletes will be able to experience their dream and come away from it healthy.
Go to Rio and fulfill your dreams! Just my two cents.