PRAYER ALERT about Olympics Zika risk. Last month 150 health experts wrote an open letter to WHO (the World Health Organization) calling for the Olympics in Brazil to be postponed or relocated. Brazil had more that 4000 cases of microcephaly—brain defects in newborns—last year due to the Zika virus. Brazil in fact is where the recent outbreak of Zika started. But WHO declined the experts’ appeal. WHO replied that changing the Olympics date or location would “not significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus.” Why? Because many millions are already traveling to Brazil. With 500,000 expected spectators, the Olympic Zika threat won’t numerically affect the spread of the virus so much.
But the Olympics Zika risk is being broadcast to the athletes. Each is being given insect repellent and 20 condoms. Athletes are instructed to use condoms correctly while in Brazil and for 6 months after they return. They are advised to wear light-colored clothes, keep their windows closed and use air conditioning. The athletes are warned to avoid areas near vegetation and water for the few days or weeks they are in Brazil. But what about the hundreds of millions of people who live long-term in nations with active Zika virus transmission? How can they be expected to live such insulated and sheltered lives?
Zika may be controlled in isolated places. But there is no known prospect of stopping its spread. At this time there is no Zika vaccine and no known treatment. We don’t even yet have a rapid diagnostic test. And it will be at least 18 months before scientists can start large-scale trials of possible vaccines.
Some have proposed that genetically-modified mosquitoes be released into areas to target wild mosquitoes. Their interaction could change the wild mosquitoes so that they can no longer spread infectious diseases. But there can be unintended consequences. A stronger and more resilient species may arise and cause an even bigger threat. In fact critics say that such an experiment in 2012 may have started the current Zika outbreak. Genetically modified mosquitoes were released into Brazil’s general population that year to fight the spread of dengue fever. Now an even greater outbreak has infected more than 1.5 million with the Zika virus.
DailyInsight. Healing and forgiveness are found at the cross of Christ, where He took our wounds and sins upon His own body (see Isa. 53:5).
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