Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff declared war on the mosquitoes responsible for spreading the Zika virus in a television broadcast to the nation released Wednesday.
During her pre-recorded address Rousseff said a national mobilization day would be held on Saturday across the country in which thousands of soldiers and state employees would work to rid insects from homes and offices.
The Inter Press Service news agency reported that Brazil will deploy some 220,000 troops in an attempt to stem the flow of the fever.
Rousseff said that substantial federal resources were being used to fight Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, because it was a fight that "cannot be lost"
"All of us need to take part in this battle," she said.
"We need help and goodwill from everyone. Collaborate, mobilize your family and your community. I will insist, since science has not yet developed a vaccine against the Zika virus, that the only efficient method we have to prevent this illness is the vigorous battle against the mosquito," she said.
Rousseff also reassured future mothers in Brazil that the government is taking all of the necessary steps to prevent the spread of the mosquito borne infection which may be linked to the birth defect microcephaly.
"We will do everything, absolutely everything in our reach to protect you. We will do everything, absolutely everything we can to offer support to the children affected by microcephaly and their families," she said.
Microcephaly is a condition that causes babies to be born with smaller than normal brains and abnormally small heads.
Geovane Silva holds his son Gustavo Henrique, who has microcephaly, at the Oswaldo Cruz Hospital in Recife, Brazil. | Photo: Reuters
Approximately 3,400 babies have been born with microcephaly in Brazil.
The virus is said to be spreading across the Americas.
Health officials in Colombia recorded more than 20,000 cases of the Zika virus, making it the second worst affected country after Brazil, where the infection originated. However, numbers are only estimates. Many people affected with Zika show no symptoms.
On Monday the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the Zika virus world health emergency, like the deadly Ebola infection that rocked Central Africa from 2014 to 2015, after the first meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee in Geneva, Switzerland.
As a "public health emergency of international concern," the mosquito-borne infection will now be classed as a serious global threat.
It will lead to more money, resources and scientific expertise being thrown at the problem in Latin America and in laboratories around the world.
Scientists in India claimed Wednesday to have discovered a cure for the virus while French drugmaker Sanofi SA on Tuesday announced that it has launched a project to develop a vaccine against the fever.
VIDEO: Colombia: More Than 20,000 Zika Cases Confirmed