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US swimming team moves Olympic camp out of Puerto Rico due to Zika

Europe
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Washington (dpa) - The US national swimming team is moving its Olympic training camp out of Puerto Rico due to the presence of the mosquito-spread Zika virus on the US island.

US health authorities are monitoring hundreds of suspected cases of the disease, which is not present in the continental United States but has become widespread on the island in the eastern Caribbean.

An email from USA Swimming national team director Frank Busch informing team members became public Friday. The July camp, following the US Olympic trials, will instead by held in Atlanta, Georgia.

"As part of our preparations for the Olympic Games this summer, we have been closely monitoring the current situation with the Zika virus," Busch wrote in the Thursday letter. "According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and other health experts in the field of science and medicine, our athletes would be highly exposed to the Zika virus in Puerto Rico."

The Summer Games are August 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil has been hardest-hit by an on-going Zika outbreak in parts of Latin America.

"We will also educate Olympic Team members about Zika and provide them with multiple tools to reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitos while in Rio," Busch said.

The virus causes usually mild flu-like symptoms but in pregnant women has been blamed for microcephaly, a condition where the heads and brains of newborns are smaller than normal, causing mental disabilities.

The US team will now train at aquatics facilities used for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. The swimming complex is now part of Georgia Tech, a major university in Atlanta.

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