Zika Virus: IOC Says Rio Will Be 'Safe Environment' For 2016 Olympics

Zika viral outbreak started in Brazil last years.

ByABC News
January 29, 2016, 11:11 PM

— -- With the Zika virus continuing to spread across the Americas after starting in Brazil, the International Olympic Committee sent a letter detailing medical advice for people visiting Brazil and other countries with virus transmission ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games.

The International Olympic Committee sent the note last Friday to all national Olympic committees and outlined medical advice.

"We remain confident that there will be a safe environment for successful and enjoyable Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro," they said in the statement.

The committee's recommendations include the advisement that pregnant women or women who are planning to become pregnant should discuss travel plans with their health care provider and that travelers in areas with Zika virus transmission should use insect repellent and wear long sleeves to avoid mosquito bites.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised pregnant women reconsider traveling to any country where the Zika virus is ongoing. For most people the virus causes mild symptoms that last less than a week. These symptoms include fever, rash and conjunctivitis.

In this outbreak the disease has been associated with a rise in a rare birth defect called microcephaly, which is characterized by an abnormally small head and brain.

Dr. Stephen Morse, professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, said the Brazil government was taking serious steps to stop the outbreak and that it was too soon to tell if they how successful they would be.

"If I had an Olympic ticket now, what would I do? I’d wait to see what it looks like when it gets closer," Morse told ABC News. "I’m cautiously optimistic."