Zika virus exposure will be monitored by researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health during the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Rio De Janeiro.

The study, funded by NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and led by Carrie L. Byington, MD , from the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, aims to provide answers on the incidence of Zika virus infections, identify risk factors for infections, and detect where the virus persists in the body. The researchers will study the reproductive outcomes of Zika-infected individuals for up to 1 year.

The study is expected to enroll at least 1,000 men and women – a subset of athletes, coaches, and other U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) staff members traveling to Brazil for the games.

“Zika virus infection poses many unknown risks, especially to those of reproductive age,” Catherine Y. Spong, MD , acting director of NICHD, said in a statement. “Monitoring the health and reproductive outcomes of members of the U.S. Olympic team offers a unique opportunity to answer important questions and help address an ongoing public health emergency.”

The University of Utah and the USOC conducted a 1-month pilot study during March-April 2016. Among the 150 participants, one-third of the pilot group indicated that they or their partner planned to become pregnant within 12 months of the Olympic Games. Before traveling to Brazil, the entire USOC staff will be briefed on a number of items, including the Zika outbreak. Zika virus testing kits and training on how to use the tests will be provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read more about the study here

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