A new strain of Zika virus is circulating in Brazil and could trigger a new outbreak in the country, according to a report by the Osvaldo Cruz Foundation.
Public health experts in Brazil say the best strategy to prevent The Zika virus remains to fight mosquitoes at their source, as there is no effective treatment for the infection and related diseases it causes.
Zika is a flavivirus that is spread by mosquitoes. People infected with zika usually have fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain or headache, but most do not have symptoms.
Zika virus infection can put people at risk for neurological complications, and infections during pregnancy can cause babies to be born with microcephaly and other congenital abnormalities.
The previously known Zika virus has two lineages – African and Asian.
Epidemiologists conducting genetic sequencing of the 2019 Zika virus in Brazil identified an African subtype of zika virus in Rio and Rio DE Janeiro, which is different from previous Zika virus strains circulating in Brazil.
Brazil has reported 3,692 cases of Zika virus infection so far this year, according to the latest report from the Brazilian Ministry of Health.
Larissa Costa, a researcher with the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, said it was not clear how harmful the newly discovered strain would be.
Since the vast majority of Brazilians do not carry antibodies against the new virus, the new Zika virus could cause a new outbreak.
Public health expert Leah Girardo says about 90 percent of mosquito breeding sites have home-made water storage equipment, mostly from poor communities.
At the same time, a lack of effective drainage systems has left roads in poor communities flooded and prone to mosquito breeding.
Therefore, the government and the public need to strengthen the elimination of mosquitoes in sewage treatment, soil drainage, water supply and storage.
Brazilian epidemiologists have also noted that timely public awareness of how to combat the zika virus is crucial.
Since the first zika outbreak in Brazil in 2015, the government has gained much experience and introduced a series of measures to curb the spread of the virus.
In Brazil, large-scale anti-mosquito campaigns have been carried out throughout the country to inform the public about preventive measures and raise public awareness of hygiene.
Brazil’s Ministry of Health has also established an expert group on zika virus response to promote research activities and the development of new technologies.
Disease control experts in Brazil say the health sector needs close epidemiological surveillance for the newly discovered Zika virus.
The public sector needs to invest more in poor communities with a package of solutions that includes improved health standards.
At the same time, timely release of epidemic information and the establishment of an early warning and information linkage system are also important for epidemic prevention and control.