Brazilian newspapers say the country's health minister has acknowledged the country is "badly losing the battle" against the mosquito that transmits Zika, a virus linked to a rare birth defect.

Reports in all the major dailies say Marcelo Castro suggested that suggesting prior governments had been too lax in efforts to eradicate the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads dengue and chikungunya. The reports say he made the comment Monday night as a crisis group on Zika was meeting in the capital, Brasilia.

Brazilian health officials linked Zika to a sharp spike in cases of microcephaly, in which babies are born with unusually small heads and often with developmental problems.

Castro's office did not immediately respond to calls and emails for comment on Tuesday.

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