Brazil President Dilma Rousseff vowed to fight the spread of the Zika virus, which has been linked to rare birth defects in thousands of babies. During her address to a joint session of Brazil's Congress, Rousseff also confirmed Brazil would enter a partnership with the US to develop a vaccine against the virus.
"The will be no lack of funding," the president said during her address, according to Reuters. Researchers in the two countries will join to stem the spread of the virus that has been confirmed in 28 countries in the Americas. World Health Organization officials expressed concerns on 2 February that the virus could spread to Africa and Asia.
According to The Associated Press, the Caprivari municipality in Sao Paulo is canceling its Carnival celebrations in light of the epidemic and will instead use a reported $25,000 on prevention measures, such as the eradication of mosquito breeding grounds. Brazil has sent nearly 220,000 troops to battle the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits Zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
The virus has been linked to thousands of cases of Brazilian newborns with brain damage, including microcephaly. Reuters reported that health officials in Brazil raised the country's number of suspected microcephaly cases to 4,074 as of 30 January from 3,718 a week prior. The Brazilian Health Ministry said that of 4,783 notified cases of the neurological condition reported since October 2015, 709 were found to be negative.
A link between Zika virus and the birth defects has yet to be scientifically established, Reuters noted. Earlier on 2 February, health officials in the US confirmed the first reported case of sexually transmitted Zika virus in Texas. Local health officials said the virus was likely contracted through sex from a person who had visited Venezuela and not a mosquito bite.