Several prominent athletes have already voiced their concerns about traveling to Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympics because of the Zika virus, and Detroit Tigers reliever Francisco Rodriguez doesn’t blame them.
Rodriguez contracted the Zika virus while spending time in his home country of Venezuela during the offseason. The 34-year-old said he dealt with severe joint pain, body aches and headaches for two weeks, and it took him two months to fully recover. As the symptoms worsened, he knew something wasn’t right.
“It wasn’t a cold, trust me,” Rodriguez told Katie Strang of ESPN.com. “It wasn’t a cold. A cold, you have a sneeze, have a headache, take a couple Tylenol and you’re done. You don’t have a cold for two weeks, you don’t have a bodyache for two weeks, you don’t have headaches, throwing up, weaknesses for two weeks.”
The Zika virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and is particularly dangerous for women, as it can cause birth defects and other complications. Rodriguez is now cautioning any athletes who plan to partake in the Rio Olympics to educate themselves on Zika risks.
“If they have plans to have kids in the future, you’ve got to think about it,” he said. “You have to be aware of that as well. You have to do some homework, some research about it.”
Hope Solo already said she is not going to let the Zika virus stop her from playing for Team USA this summer, while one NBA superstar isn’t quite as comfortable with the idea. PGA superstar Rory McIlroy, who is engaged and has plans to start a family in the near future, could also skip Rio.
The outbreak has become a serious concern. As Rodriguez knows first-hand, there is good reason for that.
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