USOC set-up Disease Advisory Group to combat Zika virus threat at Rio 2016
A special Disease Advisory Group has been formed by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) in order to “identify and establish” best practices in managing infectious diseases at Rio 2016.
The three-strong panel will be chaired by Dr Carrie Byington, a viral and bacterial expert from the University of Utah Heath Care.
She will be joined by Dr Randy Taplitz from the University of California and Capt. Martin Cetron from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The group will “assist the USOC in identifying and establishing best practices regarding the mitigation, assessment and management of infectious disease, paying particular attention to how issues may affect athletes and staff participating in the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games”.
This will include helping develop educational material for athletes and staff as well as answering individual questions from delegation members plus monitoring and sharing updated scientific literature on relevant issues.
They will also provide insight to support athlete-centric care should an individual become ill.
“The health and safety of our athletes, and our entire delegation, is our top priority,” said USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun ahead of the USOC Media Summit here starting on Monday (March 7).
“I’m grateful to the diverse group of medical experts that have agreed to provide Team USA with the information and resources necessary to stay healthy and compete successfully.”
All three members of the group are doctors of medicine, as well as Board Certified and/or Fellowship-trained in infectious disease.
Each has experience with the management of infectious disease in patient populations that frequently travel internationally.
“It is a true honour to chair this advisory group with some of our nation’s most experienced infectious disease specialists,” said Byington.
“Helping Team USA is an incredibly unique opportunity and I look forward to providing the entire delegation with the most up-to-date and fact-based information available.”
This comes as fears continue over Zika virus in Brazil, with the CDC having warned how women who are pregnant should “consider not going to the Olympics”.
Both the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralymic Committee, however, are following the more positive advice of the World Health Organisation.
The US women’s football goalkeeper Hope Solo, a double Olympic gold medallist, said last month she would not travel to Rio de Janeiro if she had to make the choice due to Zika fears, as she wants to start a family.
USOC were also forced to deny reports they told athletes and staff concerned about the Zika virus that they should consider not attending the Olympics.
- By Nick Butler at the Maison Beverly Hills in Los Angeles
- Republished with permission insidethegames.biz