News   /   Brazil

Brazil to deploy over 200,000 soldiers to battle Zika virus

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Brazilian army soldiers walk while canvassing a neighborhood in an attempt to eradicate the larvae of the mosquito which causes the Zika virus, while informing the public of preventive methods. (Getty Images)

The Brazilian government is to send at least 220,000 troops across the country to conduct a “house to house” operation for uprooting the mosquito-borne Zika virus, the latest move to defeat the virus blamed for causing the birth defect microcephaly.

According to the country’s Health Minister Marcelo Castro, the operation will be started on February 13 and the soldiers will be handing out educational leaflets and giving advice to Brazilians in a bid to combat the virus’ alarming spread.

Authorities say the move is essential to eradicate breeding grounds of the carrier mosquitoes.

Marcelo had earlier said that Brazil was “losing badly” in its battle against Zika, describing the spread as one of the worst public health crises in the country’s history and calling the mosquito the “public enemy number one”.

A pediatric infectologist at Oswaldo Cruz Hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil, examines a two-month-old baby girl, who has microcephaly. (Getty Images)

The virus causes a mild fever and conjunctivitis and headache, but 60 to 80 percent of the infected show no symptoms; however it has been said that there is a link between the virus and microcephaly, a fetal deformation in Brazilian babies that gives them brains smaller than normal.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 4,000 cases of microcephaly were reported in Brazil in 2015. The alarming toll is way higher than the norm, which is 160 cases on an annual average.

Municipal agents spray anti-Zika mosquito chemicals at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on January 25, 2016. (AFP)

Some 400,000 women in Brazil are currently pregnant and the upcoming insect repellent program is mainly to help them not to be bitten by the mosquito.

An adult Aedes aegypti, Zika-carrier mosquito

The Aedes aegypti, Zika-carrier mosquito, which can be recognized particularly by white markings on its legs, is capable of biting all day long in its life span of two to four weeks. The mosquito can also act as the carrier of few other disease-causing viruses.

The WHO also said that the best-known prevention measures include wearing long sleeves and trousers, applying insect repellents and sleeping under mosquito nets.

The virus, for which there is still no vaccine or treatment, was first isolated from a monkey in Zika Forest, Uganda, in 1947. It has already been detected in 21 countries in the Caribbean, North and South America.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku