Updated 01:54 AM EDT, Wed, Oct 20, 2021

Brazil Directs Funding towards Vaccine for Zika Virus [Prevention, Treatment & Effects]

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Brazil's government has announced that it will direct funding towards the development of a vaccine for the Zika virus.

On Friday, Health Minister Marcelo Castro said that the objective is for the Butantan Institute, which is based in São Paulo, to development a vaccine for Zika virus "in record time," Fox News Latino reported. Institute Director Jorge Kalil said that the vaccine development is expected to be completed in 3 to 5 years.

"Today there is only one way to fight the Zika virus, which is to destroy the mosquito's breeding grounds," Castro said, as quoted in the news outlet's report. "The final victory against the virus will only come when we develop a vaccine against that disease."

The Zika pathogen reportedly originated from mosquitoes and was first discovered in forest monkeys in Africa over 70 years ago, the Washington Post reported. The virus causes mild symptoms in most cases but can result to severe neurological complications or even death in others. It was also linked to birth defects in newborns.

On Nov. 28, Brazil's Health Ministry found the Zika virus during an autopsy in a baby that had microcephaly, a rare condition in which infants are born with shrunken skulls and brains that do not develop properly, the Washington Post added. The virus was also found in the amniotic fluid of mothers whose babies had the disease.

The South American country is currently facing the largest known outbreak of Zika, Fox News Latino further reported. According to the Health Ministry, 3,530 babies have been born with microcephaly in Brazil since October. Less than 150 similar cases were reported throughout 2014.

Majority of the cases have occurred in impoverished areas in northeastern Brazil, although cases in Rio de Janeiro and other large cities are also climbing, the news outlet noted. This prompted citizens to use mosquito repellent, while some women with ample finances have left the country to carry out their pregnancies in the United States or Europe to avoid the disease.

Last Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, has issued an alert advising pregnant women to postpone travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where Zika outbreaks have been reported. This includes Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico.

In Hawaii, a baby recently born with microcephaly was confirmed to be infected with Zika in the past, CNN reported. According to the CDC, the mother of the newborn probably acquired the Zika infection while living in Brazil in May 2015 and her baby caught the infection while in the womb.

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