Thursday 29 September 2016

Worldwide epidemic fears as Brazil admits to 'losing the battle' against Zika transmitting mosquito

Published 26/01/2016 | 13:54

A female Aedes aegypti mosquito on the arm of a researcher at the Biomedical Sciences Institute in Sao Paulo, Brazil (AP)
A female Aedes aegypti mosquito on the arm of a researcher at the Biomedical Sciences Institute in Sao Paulo, Brazil (AP)

Brazil's health minister has reportedly acknowledged the country is "badly losing the battle" against the mosquito that transmits Zika, a virus linked to a rare birth defect.

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Reports in all the major dailies said Marcelo Castro suggested that prior governments had been too lax in efforts to eradicate the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads dengue and chikungunya.

The reports say he made the comment as a crisis group on Zika was meeting in the capital, Brasilia.

Brazilian health officials linked Zika to a sharp spike in cases of microcephaly, in which babies are born with unusually small heads and often with developmental problems.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it suspects a link between the Zika virus and microcephaly but said so far the evidence is circumstantial.

WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said the "big task" is to try to establish a link between the virus and the birth defect.

The UN agency plans a special session on Thursday on the virus during a Geneva meeting of its executive board, he said.

The virus has been associated with close to 4,000 microcephaly cases in Brazil, and El Salvador, Panama, Colombia and Cape Verde also have "large outbreaks", he added.

Mr Lindmeier said the "huge increase" of Zika cases "gives a lot of reason for concern".

Read more - Zika Virus Q&A: What is it? What are the travel implications?

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