Newspaper headlines last month reported that Olympic long jump champion, Greg Rutherford, has frozen a sample of his sperm due to concerns over contracting the Zika Virus at the Summer Olympic Games in Brazil this year.
The month prior, 150 health experts signed a petition to the organisers, urging for the games to be moved or delayed because of the outbreak of the mosquito borne virus, which can cause crippling birth defects in babies, as well as being linked to the neurological disorder Guillain-Barre Syndrome in adults. On the other hand, Leonardo Picciani, Brazil’s sports minister, said that the number of people who contract the illness (for which there is no cure) will be “close to zero”. Regardless, many people including Rutherford and his girlfriend are taking no chances.
Rutherford’s announcement came on the day it emerged that some British athletes are being advised to stay indoors after dark because of the threat of the Zika Virus and other diseases. The British Triathlon team have gone to extreme lengths to protect its athletes. The performance director, Brendan Purcell, said every member of the squad will be provided with an information pack on the dangers of the infection, and will also be given mosquito nets and disinfectant that will be applied after every training session. Purcell has said “no athletes will be allowed out after dusk, which is 6pm, to prevent mosquitos congregating”.
Zika Infection a Concern for Anyone Planning a Family
Of course, mosquitos don’t just bite celebrities. The threats and dangers of the Zika Virus have had a significant impact on the way many people travelling to affected countries will now go about their plans. Whilst abroad, many are taking extra measures to avoid contracting the disease, especially those who will eventually want to conceive. Areas in which the virus is specifically being spread include countries in South America such as Brazil and Ecuador, as well as many Caribbean islands such as Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, and South East Asia.
We here at Concept Fertility have seen an increase in the number of patients who come to us wishing to freeze their sperm as a precautionary method. A number of our patients are traveling to the imminent 2016 Olympic Games in Rio this year, and this is focusing people’s attention. However, the threats from Zika are ongoing for people thinking of having a child. We advise men and women who have had an infection, or who have travelled to an infected area, to discuss their family plans first with a doctor. Advice from the health authorities is constantly being updated and we recommend people get the latest news from the Public Health England website.