Mossies carry the infectious Zika virus. Source: radio NZ
Mossies carry the infectious Zika virus. Source: radio NZ

Written by Georgie Scotchford, edited for online by Hannah Kotaidis

A leading authority has called for the Olympic games in Brazil to be postponed due to the worsening threat of the Zika outbreak in the country.

The World Health Organisation declared the virus a public health emergency earlier this year, and experts have warned of the serious dangers posed to athletes.

University of Ottawa’s Professor Amir Attaran said the Rio games should be postponed, due to the risk of the global epidemic spreading.

But Medical entomologist Doctor Cameron Webb said for most people, the risks for most were minimal.

“There’s generally less rainfall in Brazil in July and August, leading up to the games.

“With less rain, there’s usually less mosquitoes and less mosquitoes, there’s less likely to be as much virus circulating.”

Doctor Webb said pregnant women are the most vulnerable to contracting the virus.

“We do know that there’s strengthening evidence that there’s a link between Zika virus and birth defects.

“The Australian Government still have warnings current for pregnant women to postpone trips to about 22 countries or so, that are currently experiencing outbreaks of Zika and Brazil is one of those,” he said.

2016 Australian Olympic Team Medical Director Doctor David Hughes also said Australia’s athletes should travel to Rio with confidence.

He agreed it was inevitable the virus would spread, due to the influx of people to the already heavy populated city.

But the Australian team is well prepared and have strict protocols in place to manage any possible situation.

Australian decathlete Cederick Dubler  said nothing could get in the way of realising his Olympic dream.

“Everywhere you go there is danger and Rio, the Zika virus is something that is there and it’s definitely not going to stop me from going to my first Olympics,” he said.

Despite the all-clear by team officials, Australian golfer Marc Leishman is among the athletes who have decided there is too much at stake and will not travel to Rio for the games.