The International Olympic Committee announced a plan on Friday to help keep Zika-carrying mosquitoes away from Olympic venues during the 2016 Summer Olympic games in Rio De Janeiro.
Workers will conduct daily inspections for and remove puddles of stagnant water that could attract the infected mosquitoes. Zika is a mosquito-borne virus with mild symptoms that has been linked to thousands of cases of birth defects in Brazil.
The IOC said Friday it is "closely monitoring the situation with Zika in Brazil. We are also in close communication with the WHO and the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee on this topic." The IOC asserted that "the Rio 2016 Games will take place during the winter months of August and September, when the drier, cooler climate significantly reduces the presence of mosquitoes and therefore the risk of infection."
"We remain confident that there will be a safe environment for successful and enjoyable Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro," said the IOC.
In a statement, United States Olympic Committee spokesperson Patrick Sandusky said:
We are closely monitoring the situation through the CDC and have ongoing contact with the International Olympic Committee, the organizing officials in Rio, the World Health Organization and infectious disease specialists with expertise in tropical diseases, including the Zika virus. Additionally, we're taking steps to ensure that our delegation and those affiliated with Team USA are aware of the CDC's recommendations regarding travel to Brazil.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization said that 3 to 4 million people in South and North America could become infected with the Zika virus in the next 12 months. In Brazil, the Zika virus has been linked to about 3,500 babies being born with a defect known as microcephaly, which causes the baby to have an abnormally small brain.