Rousseff says Brazil will win "war against the mosquito"

Brasilia, Jan 29 (EFE).- Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said Friday that her country, where the Zika virus has spread so quickly and infected so many, "will win the war against the (Aedes aegypti) mosquito," carrier of that disease and also of dengue and Chikungunya.

"Right now we're losing the fight against the mosquito. As long as it keeps reproducing, we lose the battle, but we're going to win the war," Rousseff told reporters after visiting a Disease Control and Coordination Center in Brasilia.

The president said the government has decided to launch a "mobilization" that includes the deep and widespread cleansing of all public facilities around the country by health agents on a mission to locate mosquito breeding grounds.

Taking part in this "vast mobilization" will be close to 220,000 soldiers of the Brazilian armed forces, though Rousseff noted that this will not be enough unless they have the full cooperation of every citizen.

"Soldiers, scientists, street cleaners, housewives, we all must be concerned about this problem," the president said, adding that, since no vaccine exists to prevent infection by the virus, "mosquito breeding grounds must be eliminated."

Rousseff called special attention to the Zika virus, about which she said "there is clear evidence" it is associated with the almost 4,200 cases of babies born with microcephaly in the country over the past few months.

Though she emphasized microcephaly, which she considers a "terrible illness," she also spoke of the numerous cases of dengue and Chikungunya in Brazil.

According to official statistics, the number of dengue cases jumped by 178 percent in 2015 in Brazil over the year before, infecting almost 1.6 million people while taking 843 lives.

As for Chikungunya, last year 20,661 cases were registered and three people died of the disease.

Before talking to reporters, Rousseff spoke on a videoconference with authorities in the states of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Pernambuco, Paraiba and Bahia, which are among those with the most cases of Zika, dengue and Chikungunya.

For all these plagues, Rousseff urged an increase in prevention measures against the Aedes aegypti mosquito, a campaign that she said also has the collaboration of "churches, unions, soccer clubs" and all the organizations of civil society.

"We all have to get rid of stagnant water, which can be found anywhere from inside a flowerpot to garbage dumps to bottle caps," she said.

In recent months, the Zika virus has spread with incredible speed from South to North America, and according to estimates of the Pan American Health Organization, or PAHO, could infect between 3 million and 4 million cases this year.