Brazil Hosts ‘National Day Against Zika’ as Virus Fears Escalate

AP/Silvia Izquierdo
AP/Silvia Izquierdo

Brazilian officials, including President Dilma Rousseff, took to the streets on Saturday for National Day Against Zika to raise awareness about the virus and ways to prevent it.

The government wrote in a press release:

The “National Day of Mobilization Zika Zero” will promote awareness in 350 municipalities, reaching approximately three million households across the country, with the participation of ministers of President Dilma Rousseff, health workers and 220 thousand soldiers.

Various politicians across the country made public appearances to raise awareness of Zika prevention techniques, including the elimination of still water pools and wearing long-sleeved clothing. Here, legislator Celina Leão meets her constituents.

Translation: Manaus enters the “war” against the Aedes mosquito in the National Day of Mobilization Zika Zero.

Translation: “The only vaccine against Zika is citizen awareness today,” says Minister.

Troops passed around fliers to residents with instructions “to reduce breeding grounds for Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits Zika, dengue fever and a close cousin, chikungunya.”

“At least once a week we should take 15 minutes, which isn’t much, to see, inspect and clean our homes,” declared Marcelo Castro, the Brazilian health minister. “More than two-thirds of the mosquitoes breed inside homes,” Mr. Castro said. “The army, navy, air force, military police, fire departments and agents who fight epidemics cannot do this alone.”

The officials, with President Rousseff, wore t-shirts that said, “A mosquito is not stronger than an entire country.” The government wants the communities to combat the mosquitoes, while the residents hoped the officials would do more.

“Sometimes the garbage piles up here for days, and it would be nice if they sprayed for mosquitoes once in a while,” said Joanice Jesus Bispo, who lives near the Atlantic Ocean.

In São Luís, Chief Minister of the Civil House Jaques Wagner and Mayor Edivaldo Junior pushed their citizens to do all they can to eliminate the mosquitoes.

“I ask everyone to continue to contribute to fight against mosquitoes so we can ensure the health of future generations,” said Wagner.

Doctors in Rio de Janeiro report two cases of Zika every hour. At the end of January, O Globo highlighted the role the Brazilian officials have played in allowing mosquito infestation in many of the nation’s urban hubs.

Edimilson Migowski, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), claims the “records of suspected cases account for only 2% of the total number of infected people, which is close to 75,000.”

Migowski also blamed the City Council for the disease because officials have not held an Index Survey on the Aedes aegypti mosquito since last October. These surveys track Aedes aegypti mosquitos, which carry the Zika virus. Silvia Cavalcantti, graduate coordinator in Microbiology UFF [Fluminense Federal University], levied the same complaint.

“Working with a LIRAa [the survey] is something basic,” she explained. “Knowing the most affected areas is essential to promote more intensive actions against epidemics. If the surveys show that an area is at risk, agents can be relocated to minimize the effects.”

She added, “In addition, the work must be done all year. It’s no use fighting the vector seasonally.”

O Globo also reported the Ministry of Health “stressed” that officials continue to gather information about Aedes aegypti, but residents in poor cities like Rocinha and affluent neighborhoods like Alto Leblon have noticed standing water and neglect from state workers.

“In the last two years, no one from the city has done mosquito surveys,” said Ednaldo, who has worked in the neighborhood for 27 years. “The agents arrive with a piece of paper, sign it, and then do nothing. Previously they put larvicidal powder into the drains and saucers of plants. But there are more. If you do a survey on the street, you will find many mosquito breeding grounds.”

Ednaldo also criticized the residents in the neighborhood.

“Dwellers in my building let water accumulate in saucers,” he exclaimed. “People here are the type who ask to save water, but also allow a child to play two hours outside with the hose. It is carelessness.”


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