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Health official predicts Zika outbreak will not affect Summer Olympics

Health official predicts Zika outbreak will not affect Summer Olympics
A Brazilian soldier shows larvae of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The crisis over the mosquito-borne Zika virus should abate by the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, an international health official said. (Eraldo Peres / Associated Press)

The threat of the Zika virus should be "way down" by the time Brazil hosts the 2016 Olympic Games in August, a leading health official said Friday.

The mosquito-borne virus should subside because the mosquito population will decrease during what is wintertime in the Southern Hemisphere, according to Dr. Bruce Aylward, executive director ad interim of the World Health Organization's outbreaks and emergency health cluster.

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"Brazil is going to have a fantastic Olympics and it's going to be a successful Olympics and the world is going to go there," Aylward told reporters. "I just wish I was going there, but there's not going to be a lot of problems there by then, so I'll be somewhere else."

The outbreak also could slow if a large portion of Brazil's population develops immunity over the next six months, he said.

It was just a few weeks ago the WHO declared Zika a public health emergency and called for quick response. The virus has swept through much of the Americas and could be linked to birth defects and rare but severe complications.

Brazilian officials have recently launched a series of mosquito-eradication programs.

Aylward's comments mirror those by health experts who earlier this week told The Times they expect the situation in Rio de Janeiro to improve significantly by summer.

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