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U.S. Olympians at Rio Games Infected with WNV, not Zika
USAgNet - 10/10/2017

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes and staff who traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the 2016 Summer Games did not become infected with Zika virus but did test positive for other tropical, mosquito-borne viral infections, including West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever and Chikungunya. Results from the University of Utah Health-led study will be reported at IDWeek, a national infectious disease conference being held in San Diego.

None of the infected travelers became seriously ill, say the study's investigators. But the findings are a reminder that amidst the frenzy over Zika, travelers were also susceptible to other, long-standing public health risks that did not receive the same level of scrutiny.

"Everyone was concentrating on Zika and ignoring that there could be other infections caused by mosquito bites. We did not expect to find so many with these other infections," says U of U Health infectious disease specialist Krow Ampofo, MBCHB., who will be presenting the study's results on Oct. 7. "That is one of the reasons why we think that being vigilant about monitoring for infectious diseases after travel to at-risk areas is so important."

Other sources have indicated that there were no Zika cases reported during the Rio Olympics. But the U of U Health investigation is the first to examine a large cohort for viruses that cause other tropical infectious diseases.

Of the 457 athletes and staff who provided blood samples after returning from Brazil, testing found that 32 (7%) had become infected with mosquito-borne viruses while abroad. Twenty-seven had West Nile Virus, three had Chikungunya, and two had Dengue. None had signs of Zika.

Twelve of the individuals who tested positive filled out post-travel surveys. From those, only three -- two with Chikungunya and one with West Nile Virus -- reported having symptoms that can include body aches and rash. Symptoms emerged within two weeks after travel and resolved shortly thereafter.

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