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Rio Olympic officials confident of Zika virus measures in place

Ipanema Beach

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 26: People gather on Ipanema beach, a landmark tourist destination in Rio, on February 26, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Zika virus outbreak, which may be linked to a surge in microcephaly cases in the country, is threatening tourism in Brazil which expects to profit from hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors travelling to Rio de Janeiro during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak, centered in Brazil, to be a ‘public health emergency of international concern’. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Rio de Janeiro Olympic officials are confident that measures in place will protect visitors from the Zika virus when the games open in less than four months.

The focus on Zika returned to the Olympics after United States health officials said enough evidence exists to say the virus causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads.

“We’ll continue to follow the advice and guidance of the World Health Organization to the letter,” Rio spokesman Mario Andrada said on Thursday. “And we’ll continue to keep our partners informed, including the national Olympic committees and the international federations, about information regarding the Zika issue.”

The confirmation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came just hours after a team of Olympic inspectors completed their last visit to Rio.

Nawal El Moutawakel, the head of the inspection team, did not get a single question about Zika in a 45-minute news conference.

Rio officials say stagnant water is being drained around venues. Air conditioning will be installed in the athletes’ village, and visitors will be encouraged to use repellent, and wear long sleeves and trousers.

Officials are hopeful the cooler, drier weather when the games open will reduce the mosquito population.

Brazil is at the center of the outbreak, with Rio de Janeiro getting special attention with 10,500 athletes and up to 500,000 foreign tourists expected for South America’s first games.

A top official at the CDC said “there is no longer any doubt that Zika causes microcephaly.”

The CDC said the virus was spread primarily though mosquito bites, but also can be transmitted through sex, and was particularly worrisome for pregnant women.

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