Brazil is pulling out the big guns in the battle against the Aedes mosquito and the viruses it may transmit, including dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika.

Aedes aegypti/CDC
Aedes aegypti/CDC

Brazil’s health minister, Marcelo Castro said that more than  200,000 members of Brazil’s armed forces would go door-to-door to help in mosquito eradication efforts.

The soldiers will distribute leaflets and dispense advice, according to Castro, as the Brazilian government try to get a handle on the new mosquito borne epidemic in the country.

In addition, the government would distribute mosquito repellent to some 400,000 pregnant women who receive cash-transfer benefits.

Late last week, the health ministry stated (computer translated) that some 7.4 million homes have been visited by health and military officers through Jan. 22 to eliminate breeding places of Aedes aegypti and educating the public on preventive measures against mosquito.

The executive secretary replacement of the Ministry of Health, Neilton Oliveira explained, “During these visits, we identified 3% of homeowners with mosquito outbreaks. The goal is to reduce this rate of infestation to less than 1% in all municipalities. This demonstrates that we will not be victorious unless clearly we inform the population and mobilize society to eliminate the Aedes. The priority is not to let it be born.”

Since December, 266,000 community health workers have been sent out to reinforce the fight against Aedes aegypti in homes.

The Ministry of Health has recently launched a national campaign to fight the Zika vector, which draws attention to the importance of cleaning for the elimination of dengue mosquito breeding sites. The campaign slogan “Saturday’s spring cleaning. Do not give clearance for the dengue mosquito.” There will also be information campaign for pregnant women and women of childbearing age, a website and mobile application with information about microcephaly and Zika virus.

Even with all this, Castro said the country is “badly losing the battle” against the Aedes mosquito. “The mosquito has been here in Brazil for three decades, and we are badly losing the battle against the mosquito.”

Through last Tuesday, more than 3,800 microcephaly cases have been reported and that number is expected to rise.