Aussie cricketers briefed about Zika virus ahead of WIndies tour

Last Updated on Monday, 16 May 2016, 13:46 by Denis Chabrol

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Cricket Australia medical staff have briefed Steve Smith and his colleagues regarding the Zika virus ahead of their trip to the West Indies.

Australia face West Indies and South Africa in an ODI tri-series next month.

They are set to visit Guyana, Saint Kitts and Barbados during the tournament.

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There have been a handful of confirmed Zika cases recently in Guyana, located on the north coast of South America.

The scientific consensus is that the virus causes microcephaly – the malformation of the brains of newborn babies – and Guillain-Barre syndrome.

The recent outbreak, which has overshadowed the lead-up to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, hasn’t been overlooked by CA.

The risk facing the 16-man squad isn’t as significant as for those Olympians travelling to Brazil, the epicentre of the Zika outbreak.

But the topic was covered in CA’s pre-trip medical briefing.

“There are risks associated with travelling for any tour and players and support staff are given a variety of briefings,” CA chief medical officer John Orchard said.

“Ahead of the West Indies tour, this briefing has included the risks associated with the Zika virus, even though the coast regions in the Caribbean are at low risk.”

Most of the advice will be familiar to players, who are educated about mosquito-borne diseases malaria and yellow fever prior to visiting India and Africa respectively.

“The briefing includes how to avoid the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes,” Orchard said. “We have also reminded players of safe-sex practices as exposure to this virus can lead to long-term pregnancy complications.”

Zika is spread primarily by mosquitoes but can also be transmitted sexually, prompting the Australian Olympic Committee to provide ‘anti-Zika’ condoms to athletes.

The outbreak of Zika has prompted calls for this year’s Olympics to be postponed or shifted to another city.

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Australian golfers Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, and Marc Leishman have opted to skip the Games.

Both Scott and Leishman have expressed concerns about Zika.

“It has to be treated seriously and I just don’t think it is,” Scott said recently. “It hasn’t really got major traction yet and I am amazed by that.”

Major League Baseball recently moved a series of games from Puerto Rico to Miami because of Zika concerns.

The upcoming ODI matches in Guyana will coincide with the country’s 50th anniversary of independence.

There is no prospect of the games being shifted.