Brazil seeks neighbors’ help

AFP January 29,2016 - 11:13 AM
A health ministry employee fumigates a home against the Aedes aegypti mosquito to prevent the spread of the Zika virus in Soyapango, El Salvador in this Jan. 21 photo. (AFP PHOTO)

A health ministry employee fumigates a home against the Aedes aegypti mosquito to prevent the spread of the Zika virus in Soyapango, El Salvador in this Jan. 21 photo. (AFP PHOTO)

Rio de Janeiro – Brazil urged its neighbors to unite in fighting the Zika virus, blamed for a surge in brain-damaged babies, as airlines offered refunds to pregnant mothers afraid to travel to the region.

As alarm rose over the latest world health scare, US President Barack Obama called for faster research on the quick-moving virus, which has infected travelers from the United States and Europe.

Brazil has been the country hardest hit by the outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus, which is blamed for a sharp rise in infants born with microcephaly, or abnormally small heads.

The outbreak is particularly concerning officials as the country prepares to host the Olympics, which will bring hundreds of thousands of travelers from around the world to Rio de Janeiro in August.

Zika has spread to some 20 countries in Latin America and the World Health Organization (WHO) expects it to spread to every country in the Americas except Canada and Chile.

Denmark and Switzerland joined a growing number of European countries to report Zika infections among travelers returning from Latin America.

There is currently no specific treatment for Zika and no way to prevent it other than avoiding mosquito bites.

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