A Harvard scientist says Rio Olympics could cause a ‘global health disaster’

2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro could have major consequences on global health.

The World Health Organization has warned of a growing epidemic as the Zika virus spreads through Latin America. The number of suspected cases in Rio is the highest of any state in the country.

There are even whispers that health officials and athletes may question whether or not the games should even move forward given the health risk.

In the Harvard Public Health Review, Dr. Amir Attaran said the Games could speed up the spread of the virus.

He said: “While Brazil’s Zika inevitably will spread globally, given enough time, viruses always do – it helps nobody to speed that up.

“In particular, it cannot possibly help when an estimated 500,000 foreign tourists flock into Rio for the Games, potentially becoming infected, and returning to their homes where both local Aedes mosquitoes and sexual transmission can establish new outbreaks.”

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He adds: “All it takes is one infected traveller, a few viral introductions of that kind, in a few countries, or maybe continents, would make a full-blown global health disaster.”

The games are scheduled to begin on August 5, which means officials are unlikely to take any type of drastic action to move the event or fend off the virus.

The realization that the Zika virus is spreading throughout the area may be partly to blame for very slow ticket sales for many Olympic events.

Sales have also been slowed after reported of gang violence surfaced along with reports of severe water pollution.