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Brazil leader vows to 'win war' against Zika-carrying mosquito

Published 29/01/2016

A soldier and a health agent check a Sao Paulo residence during an operation against the Aedes aegypti mosquito (AP)
A soldier and a health agent check a Sao Paulo residence during an operation against the Aedes aegypti mosquito (AP)

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has announced a nationwide attack on the mosquito that spreads the Zika virus, vowing to "win this war" against the insect that researchers have linked to a rare birth defect.

Ms Rousseff said an operation to eliminate breeding areas for the Aedes aegypti mosquito began on Friday at all installations run by the armed forces and at all federal educational, health and other facilities.

Graphic shows countries with locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus reported in the last two months, and geographic range of the Aedes aegypti mosquito
Graphic shows countries with locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus reported in the last two months, and geographic range of the Aedes aegypti mosquito

She called on the rest of society to join in eliminating areas of standing water, which can include things as small as a discarded food container.

"The government, churches, football teams, labour unions ... everyone must do their part to eliminate the breeding grounds," she said. "We will win this war."

She spoke after a video-conference with five state governors and six cabinet members to discuss the mosquito, which Brazilian researchers have linked to a seemingly sudden upsurge in cases of microcephaly, in which children are born with abnormally small heads.

Health minister Marcelo Castro echoed her words, telling reporters "the mosquito is not stronger than the entire country. We will win this war".

Mr Castro said "we have asked the people to clean their homes and now the government is cleaning its home", referring to the federal operation.

Brazil has won the war against the mosquito before. Following major eradication efforts, it was declared free of the mosquito in 1958. But the effort faded and the insect returned from neighbouring countries.

Graphic shows facts about the Zika virus
Graphic shows facts about the Zika virus

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