Brazil launches beach awareness campaign against Zika virus

Brazilian authorities launched an awareness campaign on the beaches of Rio de Janiero on Sunday to educate the public about the Zika virus.

On the city's Ipanema district beach, city administrators handed out t-shirts and leaflets depicting a crossed-out aedes aegypti mosquito - the species that carries and spreads the virius.

Beach-goers were advised to avoid standing water, to specially secure swimming pools, to keep tyres in storage dry, and to remove moisture build-up on air conditioners.

The campaign, titled, "Ten minutes saves lives," is meant to hinder the spread of the Zika virus, which already has appeared in 21 countries in the Americas.

The virus is thought to cause birth malformations through mother-to-child transmission, with some 4,180 babies born with unusually small heads amid the Brazilian outbreak. There has also been a spike in reported cases of Guillain-Barre muscle weakness syndrome.

A World Health Organization board of medical experts will meet on Monday to discuss the fast spread of the Zika virus and whether the outbreak constitutes a global health emergency. They are expected to then make suggestions to the UN health agency in Geneva.

WHO officials said there may have been 1.5 million Zika cases in Brazil, where the outbreak started last year, and that the number of cases in the Americas could grow to 4 million within 12 months.

The WHO last declared an international health emergency in August 2014 with West Africa's Ebola outbreak, allowing the organization to issue rules to combat the epidemic.

Last update: Sun, 31/01/2016 - 15:03

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