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Olympian Greg Rutherford freezes sperm to avoid Zika

13 June 2016

By Ayala Ochert

Appeared in BioNews 855

British athlete Greg Rutherford has frozen a sample of his sperm ahead of the Rio Olympics this summer because of concern over the Zika virus.

The wife of the Olympic gold-medal winning long jumper, Susie Verill, told Standard Issue magazine that the couple made the decision as a precaution as they plan to have more children in the future, and also to protect their young son, Milo. Verill and her son will not be accompanying Rutherford to the games.

'The Zika news has caused no end of concern if we're totally honest,' she wrote. 'We're not ones to worry unnecessarily but after more than 100 medical experts stressed the Games should be moved to prevent the disease from spreading, this was a huge factor in us choosing to stay put.'

Last month a group of 150 medical experts wrote an open letter to the World Health Organisation (WHO) calling for the Olympic games to be moved or postponed because of the risk of spreading the disease around the world.

The Zika virus has been linked to babies being born with microcephaly – a condition that results in an abnormally small skull and other brain defects. The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes but can also be passed on through sperm from an infected man (see BioNews 840).

'We've also made the decision to have Greg's sperm frozen. We'd love to have more children and with research in its infancy, I wouldn't want to put myself in a situation which could have been prevented,' wrote Verill.

US cyclist Tejay Van Garderen has also pulled out of the games over fears for his pregnant wife. Vijay Singh and Marc Leishman have withdrawn from the golf event.

Brazil's sports minister Leonardo Picciani has dismissed concerns over holding the games in Rio in August. 'We hosted 43 test events in Rio with 7000 athletes and we have not had any case of Zika or dengue [fever]. We had a very significant reduction. We had 4300 cases in April, which fell to 700 in May and there will be another significant reduction in June or July, and in August it will be very close to zero,' he told the Guardian.

'All the mechanisms of prevention and protection are guaranteed. I would say to any athlete, to any visitor planning on coming to Rio, you do not have to worry, Rio and Brazil have prepared for this moment.'

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

20 March 2017 - by Annabel Slater 
The US Centers for Disease Control has identified a potential risk of Zika virus transmission from donor sperm in the Florida tri-county area...
07 November 2016 - by Dr Barbara Kramarz 
Zika virus causes permanent damage to the testes of male mice, reducing sperm count and sex hormone levels, according to a study...
22 August 2016 - by Arit Udoh 
The Zika virus has been detected in the semen of a man six months after the onset of infection...
27 June 2016 - by Dr Lanay Griessner 
Researchers have pinpointed a gene that, if blocked, may stop Zika and other related viruses in their tracks...

16 May 2016 - by Sarah Gregory 
Researchers have developed a quick and cheap 'paper-based' test that uses CRISPR to detect the Zika virus...
21 March 2016 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
A 23-year-old woman may soon become become pregnant after receiving an implant of an ovary that had been frozen since she was eight years old...
22 February 2016 - by Ayala Ochert 
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is recommending that people returning from Zika-virus prone areas should not try to conceive naturally, donate eggs or sperm, or proceed with fertility treatment for 28 days...
17 August 2015 - by Meghna Kataria 
Using frozen donated eggs over fresh ones for IVF hampers the odds of a successful live birth, a study has found...

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