Brazil sends in 200,000 soldiers to stop the spread of the Zika virus outbreak which has seen huge numbers of babies born with small heads and cast a shadow over the Olympics
Brazil has sent more than 200,000 troops to go 'house to house' in the battle against Zika-carrying mosquitoes, blamed for causing a birth defect epidemic that is spreading rapidly across the world.
Soldiers will visit homes across Brazil, distributing leaflets and dispensing advice, according to Health Minister Marcelo Castro, signalling a major ramping up of efforts against the Zika virus.
The government, under growing pressure to deal with the crisis, will also hand out repellent to at least 400,000 pregnant women on social welfare.
The virus has been linked to serious birth defects, including microcephaly, in which babies born to women infected during pregnancy have abnormally small heads. Concerns remain that the terrifying virus could become a global issue with Rio hosting the Olympics in the summer.
A surge in incidents across Latin America, notably in Brazil, has prompted the United States and other governments to warn pregnant women against traveling to the region - an alarming prospect for Brazil as it gears up to welcome the Olympics to Rio de Janeiro in August.
Cases of the virus have also been discovered in Europe - with three cases in Great Britain, four in Italy and two in Spain's Catalonia region. The British travellers had picked up the disease after being bitten by mosquitoes while visiting Colombia, Suriname and Guyana.
All the cases so far discovered in Europe have been in people who recently returned from trips to Latin America or the Caribbean.
But experts now believe that the disease itself could potentially be spread within Italy by the Tiger Mosquito – which, although once native to Asia, is now widespread across southern Europe.
‘The disease could be carried by the Tiger Mosquito,’ Fabrizio Pregliasco, a virologist at the University of Milan, told La Repubblica
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