Zika Virus Concerns: Kenya and the Controversy surrounding the Olympic Games

Last month, the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) issued a level 2 alert for people travelling to the South American countries affected by the Zika virus. The mosquito-borne disease has had doctors describing it as a pandemic in progress; since April, 2015, the disease outbreak has spread from Brazil to most parts of South and Central America and the Caribbean.

1 out of 5 people who get the Zika virus develop a Zika infection. The symptoms are mild and include fever, headache, joint pain, rash and red eyes. It is rare for a person to get sick enough to go to the hospital and all a patient needs to do is take enough water and fluids and get plenty of rest. The virus is transmitted by the daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes and as from February 2016, three reported cases indicate that the virus can be sexually transmitted.

The Zika virus is most dangerous to unborn babies
As mild as the symptoms of the infection are to patients, the same cannot be said about unborn babies. The Zika virus has been linked with suspected cases of children born with small brains or microcephaly. In 2015, the virus was found to be present in the amniotic fluid of 2 pregnant women whose fetuses had microcephaly. This indicated that the virus could actually cross the placenta and could have been the cause of the mother-to-child infection. As much as the strong suspicion have not been scientifically proven, pregnant women have been advised to not visit affected areas. Some doctors are even going as far as advising women living in affected countries to delay getting pregnant.

And with the Rio Olympics games set to take place in Brazil in 6 months, Kenya caused a stir when  the head of the National Olympic Committee (NOCK) Kipchoge Keino was quoted as saying that the country could not "risk taking Kenyans there if the Zika virus reaches epidemic levels." NOCK has since played down the comments claiming that it's head's comments may have been taken out of context. They say that it is still too early to say and that Kenya is receiving regular updates to help monitor potential health threats.

Until we see each other again, 


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