Health official: Zika will not be a big issue at Rio Olympics

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Rio 2016 Boss: Zika 'Blown out of Proportion'

RIO DE JANEIRO, July 31 (Reuters) - The risk of Zika virus infections at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro is low and has been overcome, health officials in Brazil said on Sunday, five days before South America's first Games are due to begin.

Rio de Janeiro's health secretary, Daniel Soranz, said Zika should not deter travelers from coming to the Games, as cases of the virus had dipped significantly in recent months.

SEE MORE: Everything you need to know about Rio 2016

The mosquito-borne virus has been linked to microcephaly, a birth defect among babies of pregnant mothers infected by Zika, and its discovery in Brazil last year led to concern over the Games, which are expected to attract some 500,000 visitors.

However, with dry and cooler weather in Rio amid the southern hemisphere winter, the incidence of Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and Chikungunya has declined sharply in recent months.

RELATED: Reported Zika cases since 2015

"Since November of last year, we have already been showing projections and scientific studies that show this won't be an issue during the Olympics," Soranz told a news conference.

"Since two weeks before the Games, the number of cases were almost non-existent. In the city, cases are very rare and for us it is an issue that we have more than overcome," he said.

Some 500,000 people are expected to visit the Rio Olympics, which have been overshadowed not only by Zika but also by concerns over crime and delays to infrastructure.

50 CITIES WITH THE MOST RISK FOR ZIKA:

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50 cities with the most risk for Zika
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50 cities with the most risk for Zika

#50. Midland, Texas

Risk level: 1.38

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Low
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 161,290

Photo courtesy: Getty

#49. Yuma, Ariz.

Risk level: 1.38

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Low
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 203,247

Photo courtesy: Getty

#48. Laredo, Texas

Risk level: 1.38

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Low
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 266,673

Photo courtesy: Getty

#47. El Paso, Texas

Risk level: 1.41

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Low
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 836,698

Photo courtesy: Getty

#46. Bakersfield, Calif.

Risk level: 1.42

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Low
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 874,589

Photo courtesy: Getty

#45. Albuquerque, New Mexico

Risk level: 1.42

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Low
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 904,587

Photo courtesy: Getty

#44. Tucson, Ariz.

Risk level: 1.42

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Low
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 1,004,516

Photo courtesy: Getty

#43. Salt Lake City, Utah

Risk level: 1.43

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Low
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 1,153,340

Photo courtesy: Getty

#42. Fresno, Calif.

Risk level: 1.93

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Low
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: 10,000-500,000
Population: 965,974

Photo courtesy: Getty

#41. Las Vegas, Nev.

Risk level: 1.99

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Low
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: 10,000-500,000
Population: 2,069,681

Photo courtesy: Getty

#40. Sacramento, Calif.

Risk level: 2

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Low
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: 10,000-500,000
Population: 2,244,397

Photo courtesy: Getty

#39. San Antonio, Texas

Risk level: 2.03

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Low
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: 10,000-500,000
Population: 2,328,652

Photo courtesy: Getty

#38. Denver, Colo.

Risk level: 2.2

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Low
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: 10,000-500,000
Population: 2,754,258

Photo courtesy: Getty

#37. San Diego, Calif.

Risk level: 2.4

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Low
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: 10,000-500,000
Population: 3,263,431

Photo courtesy: Getty

#36. Phoenix, Ariz.

Risk level: 2.89

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Low
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: 10,000-500,000
Population: 4,489,109

Photo courtesy: Getty

#35. Montgomery, Ala.

Risk level: 3.92

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 373,141

Photo courtesy: Getty

#34. Huntsville, Ala.

Risk level: 3.94

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 441,086

Photo courtesy: Getty

#33. Shreveport, La.

Risk level: 3.95

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 445,142

Photo courtesy: Getty

#32. Fayetteville, Ark.

Risk level: 3.97

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 501,653

Photo courtesy: Getty

#31. Jackson, Miss.

Risk level: 4

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 577,564

Photo courtesy: Getty

#30. Augusta, Ga.

Risk level: 4

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 583,632

Photo courtesy: Getty

#29. Little Rock, Ark.

Risk level: 4.24

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 729,135

Photo courtesy: Getty

#28. Columbia, SC

Risk level: 4.36

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 800,495

Photo courtesy: Getty

#27. Birmingham, Ala.

Risk level: 4.93

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 1,143,772

Photo courtesy: Getty

#26. Raleigh, NC

Risk level: 5.09

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 1,242,974

Photo courtesy: Getty

#25. Richmond, Va.

Risk level: 5.12

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 1,260,029

Photo courtesy: Getty

#24. Louisville, Ky.

Risk level: 5.13

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 1,269,702

Photo courtesy: Getty

#23. Oklahoma City, Okla.

Risk level: 5.25

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 1,336,767

Photo courtesy: Getty

#22. Memphis, Tenn.

Risk level: 5.26

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 1,343,230

Photo courtesy: Getty

#21. Nashville, Tenn.

Risk level: 6

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 1,792,649

Photo courtesy: Getty

#20. Kansas City, Mo.

Risk level: 6.04

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 2,071,133

Photo courtesy: Getty

#19. St. Louis, Mo.

Risk level: 6.13

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 2,806,207

Photo courtesy: Getty

#18. Dallas, Texas

Risk level: 7.11

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Low
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: 500,000-1,000,000
Population: 6,954,330

Photo courtesy: Getty

#17. Charlotte, NC

Risk level: 7.38

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: 10,000-500,000
Population: 2,380,314

Photo courtesy: Getty

#16. Washington, D.C.

Risk level: 7.86

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: 10,000-500,000
Population: 6,033,737

Photo courtesy: Getty

#15. Philadelphia, Pa.

Risk level: 7.86

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: 10,000-500,000
Population: 6,052,170

Photo courtesy: Getty

#14. Los Angeles, Calif.

Risk level: 7.93

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Low
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: 500,000-1,000,000
Population: 13,262,220

Photo courtesy: Getty

#13. Savannah, Ga.

Risk level: 7.99

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: High
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 372,708

Photo courtesy: Getty

#12. Tallahassee, Fla.

Risk level: 7.99

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: High
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 375,751

Photo courtesy: Getty

#11. Mobile, Ala.

Risk level: 8

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: High
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 415,123

Photo courtesy: Getty

#10. Charleston, SC

Risk level: 8

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: High
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 727,689

Photo courtesy: Getty

#9. New Orleans, La.

Risk level: 8.01

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: High
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 1,251,849

Photo courtesy: Getty

#8. Atlanta, Ga.

Risk level: 8.13

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: 500,000-1,000,000
Population: 5,614,323

Photo courtesy: Getty

#7. Houston, Texas

Risk level: 8.14

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: 500,000-1,000,000
Population: 6,490,180

Photo courtesy: Getty

#6. Jacksonville, Fla.

Risk level: 8.38

Mosquito level in January: Low
Mosquito level in July: High
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 1,419,127

Photo courtesy: Getty

#5. New York, NY

Risk level: 8.49

Mosquito level in January: None
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: 1,000,000-2,000,000
Population: 20,092,883

Photo courtesy: Getty

#4. Brownsville, Texas

Risk level: 8.86

Mosquito level in January: Low
Mosquito level in July: Moderate
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 420,392

Photo courtesy: Getty

#3. Tampa, Fla.

Risk level: 9.14

Mosquito level in January: Low
Mosquito level in July: High
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: <10,000
Population: 2,915,582

Photo courtesy: Getty

#2. Orlando, Fla.

Risk level: 9.43

Mosquito level in January: Low
Mosquito level in July: High
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: 500,000-1,000,000
Population: 2,321,418

Photo courtesy: Getty

#1. Miami, Fla.

Risk level: 10

Mosquito level in January: Moderate
Mosquito level in July: High
Number of people traveling to the U.S. from Zika countries: 1,000,000-2,000,000
Population: 5,929,819

Photo courtesy: Getty

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The metro line due to carry visitors from the city center to the distant western neighborhood of Barra de Tijuca that is hosting the Games was inaugurated only on Saturday.

Despite the alarm over Zika, U.S. government epidemiologists estimated in June that the Olympics presented only tiny risks of propagating the epidemic, which has spread rapidly through the Americas since it was discovered in Brazil last year. They noted that an estimated 240 million people travel yearly to areas infected with the virus, and said 500,000 more in Rio was not a major threat.

Zika is spread primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, although it can also spread through sexual transmission. (Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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