U.S. Olympic swimmers taking precautions against Zika virus – WSOC Charlotte



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U.S. Olympic swimmers training in Charlotte will head to the Rio games in just a few days.

Channel 9 reporter Blaine Tolison checked in with the Charlotte Olympic swimmers.

The Olympic swimmers are taking precautions against the Zika virus.

The swimmers plan to use a mosquito-repellent blanket that is manufactured in Rock Hill. The whole team will have the blankets.

Channel 9’s Blaine Tolison spoke to the company in Rock Hill that manufactures the blankets. Officials told Channel 9 that the blankets contain an insecticide that is released when the blanket is used.

“The reality is, it’s pretty serious and they have to take good precautions. I think we as coaches and the managers are going to be running around, you know, applying bug spray on them 24 hours a day,” said U.S. Olympic women’s swim team head coach David Marsh.

“It was probably the happiest moment of my life was when I got to touch and get second and get to go to Rio,” said Kathleen Baker from Winston Salem, who, at 19, is one of the youngest to make the U.S. Olympic swim team.

The athletes, who have been training at the Mecklenburg Aquatic Center, are aware of the slumping economy, violence and the Zika virus in Rio.

The disease, spread by mosquitoes, can cause severe brain defects in babies.

“We’ve worked so hard for so long that it’s our time, and we’re not going to let anything else get in the way of that,” said U.S. Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte.

The athletes will spend two weeks in Rio starting next Tuesday, and the swimming facility is an open venue, which makes it virtually impossible to keep all mosquitoes out.

The number of Zika cases in the U.S. continue to climb.

According to a new CDC report released this week, there are now 320 pregnant women in the U.S. with signs of the virus.

There are more than 1,100 cases.

The government says people in North Carolina are at a moderate risk of contracting Zika.   

The state budget that was just passed provides nearly $500,000 to help North Carolina prepare for the virus.

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