Latin America & Caribbean

Zika crisis: US baseball league player got virus in Venezuela

Detroit Tigers pitcher Francisco Rodriguez works against the Oakland Athletics during the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, May 27, 2016 Image copyright AP
Image caption Pitcher Francisco Rodriguez, 34, has been playing in the US for more than a decade

Detroit Tigers pitcher Francisco Rodriguez has warned athletes of the risks of contracting the Zika virus.

The baseball player says he got the virus during the offseason in his native Venezuela.

He told sports network ESPN he was bedridden for two weeks with severe body aches, joint pain and headaches.

"It's something people have to be careful with and worry about," he said, adding that it had taken two months for him to "feel normal" again.

The mosquito-borne virus has been spreading through the Americas, with Brazil, which is hosting the Olympic Games this August, the worst affected country.

Rodriguez's warning comes just days after 150 scientists wrote a letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) calling on the Games to be moved or postponed.

While the WHO has played down concerns over the spread of the Zika virus, some athletes remain worried.

Rodriguez said that at first he thought he had a cold.

But when the symptoms lasted for two weeks, he had a blood test done which he says confirmed he had contracted the Zika virus.

What you need to know about Zika

Cancelling Games unthinkable

Rodriguez said that after experiencing the symptoms he understood why some athletes were considering sitting out the Olympic Games out of fear of contracting Zika.

"If they have plans to have kids in the future, you've got to think about it," he said.

Zika infection in pregnant women has been shown to be a cause of microcephaly and other brain abnormalities in babies.

Golfer Rory McIlroy is among those who have said they may miss the Olympics for fear of contracting Zika, while tennis player Andy Murray said he would seek medical guidance on the Zika virus before travelling to Rio.

But fellow tennis star Novak Djokovic said cancelling the Rio Games because of concerns over the Zika virus would be "unthinkable".

The International Olympic Committee has said it sees no reason to delay or move the Games because of Zika.

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