Will the Olympics Spread the Zika Virus?

Experts disagree on how the games might affect Zika across the globe.

ByABC News
August 4, 2016, 6:20 PM

— -- Health experts differ on whether the Rio Olympic Games could spread the Zika virus far and wide or hardly at all. But the real danger is hard to assess.

“Zika is a threat that we don’t really understand very well,” Art Caplan, a bioethicist at NYU Langone Medical Center, told ABC News.

Caplan co-authored an open letter to the Olympic Committee suggesting they postpone or move the games “in the name of public health.” To date, the letter has been signed by 240 doctors, researchers and ethicists across the globe.

However, Dr. Marty Cetron, a top-ranking official from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who is advising the Olympic committee, told ABC News that the evidence fails to show “that the Olympics will be a driver of Zika threat.”

Travel to the Olympics represents “far less than one percent” of the total travel to and from countries currently affected by Zika, Cetron said, citing a recent CDC report.

Though he disagrees with the authors of the letter, he said, "Their hearts were in the right place."

With the games set to kick off this Friday, both experts agree on one thing: Anyone traveling to the games should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites and avoid infecting others.

This ABC News Health series is a podcast taking a closer look at health and medical stories making the news. Dr. Imran Aslam is a dermatology resident at Howard University. Dr. Nicolle Martin is a family medicine resident at Emory University. Dr. Mary Carr is a general surgery resident at the University of Colorado. They previously rotated with the ABC News Medical Unit.