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Australia will give its Olympic athletes condoms designed to stop spread of Zika virus

Zika preparation

An Aedes aegypti mosquito is photographed through a microscope at the Fiocruz institute in Recife, Brazil.

(Felipe Dana / Associated Press)

Amid persistent concerns about the Zika outbreak, Australian officials announced Monday they will supply their Olympic athletes with condoms designed to block transmission of the virus.

The mosquito-borne illness -- which can also be spread through sexual contact -- has been prevalent in Brazil where the Summer Games will take place in August.

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The condoms “will provide extra protection for everyone on the team, and is a common sense approach to a very serious problem we are facing in Rio,” said Kitty Chiller, Australia’s chef de mission.

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Zika has reached epidemic proportions in Central and Latin America and has been classified as a global health emergency by the World Health Organization.

The virus is relatively mild for most people. But when pregnant women are infected, it appears to be linked to microcephaly, a birth defect that causes babies to be born with smaller-than-normal heads.

Some health officials have predicted the outbreak will subside by August because the mosquito population will decrease during the Southern Hemisphere’s wintertime.

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