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Brazil deploying 220,000 soldiers in awareness fight against Zika virus

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   Jan. 26, 2016 at 1:02 PM

BRASILIA, Brazil, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Brazil plans to deploy 220,000 soldiers to pass out information as the government continues its fight against the mosquitoes spreading the Zika virus.

Soldiers are expected to go from home to home throughout the country starting Feb. 13 to hand out leaflets that will inform residents on how to stop the spread of the Zika virus by eradicating mosquito breeding grounds, BBC News reported.

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Health Minister Marcelo Castro recently said Brazil was "losing badly" in the fight against the Zika virus, adding that its spread is one of the greatest public health crises in Brazilian history.

The epidemic is blamed on the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which transmits the Zika virus -- along with dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

Hospitalizations and fatalities are rare, with symptoms such as rash and fever lasting from a few days to one week. The virus was first isolated from a monkey in Uganda's Zika forest in 1947.

The Zika virus has also been linked to an epidemic of microcephaly -- a developmental defect resulting in a smaller-than-normal head or brain -- in newborns in Brazil, and the birth defect has been found in other children where the Zika virus has been confirmed. The first case of Zika in the United States was confirmed in Puerto Rico on Jan. 1, with the first baby with microcephaly born in Hawaii two weeks later.

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