The mosquito-borne Zika virus has spread to more than 20 countries after its outbreak in Brazil. The symptoms are flu-like aches, joint pains and rashes although some people don’t have any. Brazil’s Health Ministry said in November that Zika was linked to a fetal deformation known as microcephaly where infants are born with shrunken brains leading to severe brain damage or death.
More than 200,000 soldiers are being sent house to house to distribute leaflets and give advice. The government will also hand out repellent to at least 400,000 pregnant women on social welfare. The Olympic Games is set to be held in Rio de Janeiro in August so pregnant women should stay away and take measures to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.
The Sao Paulo-based Butantan Institute is currently hoping to develop a vaccine “in record time”. However, American scientists have warned that the vaccine could take up to 10years before becoming publicly available.