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National Institutes of Health Funds Study of Zika Virus Exposure in Olympic Athletes

December 30, 2021

The National Institutes of Health's (NIH) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) is funding a research initiative to monitor potential Zika virus exposure in at least 1,000 athletes, coaches, and other U.S. Olympic Committee staff who are attending the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which is currently at the center of the Zika virus outbreak.

Carrie L. Byington, MD, from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, leads the study, which seeks to improve the understanding of how the virus persists in the body and to identify potential factors that influence the course of infection.

With this study, Dr. Byington and colleagues hope to:

  • determine the incidence of Zika virus infection
  • identify potential risk factors for infection
  • detect where the virus persists in the body (blood, semen, vaginal secretions, or saliva)
  • evaluate how long the virus remains in these fluids
  • study the reproductive outcomes of Zika-infected participants for up to one year

Participants will complete health surveys and provide samples of bodily fluids for the detection of Zika and similar flaviviruses. Zika virus testing kits and training will be provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"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," said Catherine Y. Spong, MD, acting director of NICHD.

Source: National Institutes of Health press release, July 5, 2016.


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