Brazilian troops are taking to the streets at the start of a public action effort to educate the population on ways to eliminate the mosquito carrying the Zika virus. Nathan Frandino reports.
On the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil's armed forces are on the move, passing out leaflets and educating the public about the mosquito carrying the Zika virus. It's the start of a nationwide public action plan, says defense minister Aldo Rebelo. (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) DEFENSE MINISTER, ALDO REBELO, SAYING: "Today we are working to reduce the proliferation of the mosquito." Scientists believe the mosquito carrying the Zika virus is linked to a surge in babies born with the birth defect microcephaly. It's that threat that has President Dilma Rousseff especially worried. (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT, DILMA ROUSSEFF, SAYING: "It is important to highlight that the virus has harmful effects for pregnant women, so we are carrying out an extremely focused operation to exterminate the mosquito while we do not have a vaccine." On Saturday, Rousseff helped the military raise awareness in Rio de Janeiro. The city has some 71,000 troops deployed while a total of 220,000 are across the country. In Rio, local residents appreciated the outreach. (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) LOCAL RESIDENT, ALAN LIMA, SAYING: "The Armed Forces have a lot of credibility, not only the army, but the navy and air force too, they have greater facility than we do to speak about these things." (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) LOCAL RESIDENT, FRANCISCO CHAGAS, SAYING: "It is good for them to clarify the situation for us because the government is nowhere to be seen so we have to look after ourselves. We have to have confidence and faith in God." The next phase will involve residential visits by the armed forces to identify problem areas and distribute larvicide and insecticide.