Zika was discovered back in 1947 – but only since the recent outbreak in Brazil has this mosquito-borne virus dominated the news. Why? A sudden surge in Brazilian babies born with microcephaly – a birth defect caused by the Zika infection during pregnancy – sparked massive concern and prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the disease a public health emergency. The disease is also linked to Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which can cause temporary paralysis.

But there’s an added twist that makes this situation even more complex: Brazil, the country at the center of the current Zika crisis, is slated to host nearly 500,000 visitors this summer. Media attention on the problem has exploded, and experts are even debating whether visitors and athletes should make the trip. 

At Casino.org, we’re very familiar with odds – so we decided to calculate the likelihood of the average person contracting Zika this summer in Rio. How does the risk of Zika compare with the risk of other illnesses and accidents? What percentage of the U.S. population currently has the disease? And what are the real odds of catching Zika in Rio this summer? Is the Zika/Rio debate truly a global health crisis – or a case of media hype? Read on to get the full story.

What Do You Have a Greater Chance of Dying From?

So you’ve booked your flight to Rio, and planned your accommodations. What’s the likelihood that you’ll make it back home without catching Zika? Pretty decent: 99.999996 percent.

Another way to gain perspective is to compare your 0.000004 percent chance of contracting Zika in Rio this summer with the odds of dying from various other conditions. Only one person has died in the continental U.S. from Zika as of July 11. You are more than twice as likely to die from legal execution, 73 times more likely to die from choking on food, and over 2,212 times more likely to die in an automobile crash than to even contract Zika in Rio.

How Many Times More Likely Is ...

Should you head to Brazil this summer, you can rest easy when it comes to worrying about Zika: You only have a 1 in 250,000 chance of contracting the virus. By our reckoning, you have a lot more to worry about before you stress about that.

You're thousands of times more likely to die from an auto accident than you are likely to contract Zika in Rio. You’re also hundreds of times more likely to die from a shooting or drowning. Even the most random fatal accidents are more probable: Falling, air accidents, and even lightning strikes should worry you more than contracting Zika.

Zika Infections Across the Country

Zika is making headlines across the United States and around the globe – so we took a look at actual known cases of the virus among people within the United States. First of all, every known case of Zika in the U.S. is associated with travel to an outbreak area or sex with an infected person – there are no known cases of Zika caused by a mosquito bite on American soil as of July 11. 

Washington, D.C., tops the list for highest percentage of Zika cases: 0.000893 percent of the population has contracted the disease. New York, Hawaii, and Florida have the next highest rates. In five states – Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, and Alaska – there are no known cases of Zika at all.

Comparing Zika With Ebola, Malaria, and Other Diseases

Zika is constantly being discussed in the media, but how does it compare to other buzzed-about diseases? In the past decade, Ebola, malaria, and the West Nile virus have had just as much media coverage. In 2014, the United States was in an Ebola panic, and many were afraid they would contract Ebola.

While it’s 53 times more likely a resident of the United States will contract Zika over Ebola, those odds were during Ebola’s peak in 2014 and the Zika odds require a trip to Rio this summer. Here in the U.S., your odds of contracting Ebola and Zika are slim, and you are much more likely of contracting a severe form of West Nile disease or even malaria. Your best bet? Wear bug spray and see a doctor if you display any symptoms.

Contracting Zika or Dengue Fever in Rio

As we’ve discovered, the likelihood of contracting Zika this summer isn’t particularly high. It’s much more likely you’d catch a cold or some other common illness from someone beside you in the stands. But what about another mosquito-borne disease?

Dengue fever is a major risk for people who reside in the tropics and subtropics. It is a leading cause of illness and even death in those regions. No vaccine exists, so the best protection is to simply avoid mosquito bites.

Of the nearly half a million projected visitors to Rio this summer, odds are that only two may contract Zika. On the other hand, chances are that about 279 Rio visitors could contract dengue fever. 

What Else Is More Likely?

Asteroids. UFOs. Four-leaf clovers. They’re the stuff of dreams – or in some cases, nightmares. But, amazingly, you’re likelier to encounter one of these than you are to become a victim of Zika. For instance, a person is 25 times likelier to find a four-leaf clover on their first try than to contract Zika in Rio this summer. 

In addition, a woman in the United States is 8 times more likely to spot a UFO than to give birth to a baby with microcephaly as a result of Zika contracted in Rio.

Calculating the Odds

As you can see, the odds of contracting Zika in Rio this summer are astronomically slim. However, the debate rages on.

Zika is a serious disease, and even one case is a case too many. However, of those who become infected, 8 in 10 don’t even display symptoms, and the remaining 2 in 10 usually aren’t ill enough to require medical treatment. Zika’s greatest danger, by far, is to pregnant women.

It’s always important to do the research, weigh the risks, and calculate the odds. 

ASSET Sources


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