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When Rio de Janeiro was awarded the 2016 Olympic Games, the Zika virus had yet to reach Brazil.Of those in which the infection was confirmed, 29 percent were carrying a fetus with a serious abnormality.With 500,000 people expected to attend the Olympics, that is likely to happen in several countries in which Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that can transmit the virus, is present.As Amir Attaran, a professor of law and population health at the University of Ottawa, argued recently in the Harvard Public Health Review, the transmission of dengue fever, a virus that is related to Zika and transmitted by the same species of mosquito, declines but does not cease in the Rio winter.The second response is to say that millions of tourists visit Rio anyway, so the spread of Zika to other countries with the Aedes aegypti mosquito is inevitable; it makes little difference whether visitors who bring it back to their home countries went to the Olympics.If the Olympics go ahead, visitors will come to Brazil from many more countries than would otherwise be the case.Perhaps the risks are low enough to justify going ahead with the Rio Olympics (which in any case could be postponed rather than canceled), but perhaps they are not.
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