Zika virus outbreak is becoming a major problem in Brazil. 200,000 soldiers are about to visit homes across Brazil and deliver leaflets.
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.
It comes as the World Health Organisation said that the virus, which is suspected causing horrific brain damage to babies, will spread throughout all countries in America except Chile and Canada.
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.
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.
‘The infected patient was then bitten by a Tiger Mosquito, and the Chikungunya virus was spread to over 200 people.’
He continued: ‘We need to isolate infected people and ensure that if they have the disease they don’t leave their homes to try and ensure they don’t pass to disease to a Tiger Mosquito.
Unlike some other international health scares, the Zika virus is not spread person to person and people are only becoming infected after being bitten by mosquitoes. For most people who get infected, the flu-like symptoms will clear up in about a week.
‘We strongly advise all travellers to avoid mosquito bites and urge pregnant women to consider avoiding travel to areas where Zika outbreaks are currently reported.