Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Friday announced a nationwide attack on the mosquito spreads that Zika virus, vowing to "win this war" against the insect that researchers in have linked to a rare birth defect.
Rousseff said an operation to eliminate breeding areas for the Aedes aegypti mosquito began Friday at all installations run by the armed forces and at all federal educational, health and other facilities.
She called on the rest of society to join in eliminating areas of standing water, which can include things as small as a discarded food container.
"The government, churches, football teams, labor unions ... everyone must do their part to eliminate the breeding grounds," she said. "We will win this war."
She spoke after a videoconference with five state governors and six Cabinet members to discuss the mosquito, which Brazilian researchers have linked to a seemingly sudden upsurge in cases of microcephaly, in which children are born with abnormally small heads.
Afterward, Health Minister Marcelo Castro echoed her words, telling reporters "the mosquito is not stronger than the entire country. We will win this war."
Castro said, "We have asked the people to clean their homes and now the government is cleaning its home," referring to the federal operation.
Brazil has won the war against the mosquito before. Following major eradication efforts, it was declared free of the mosquito in 1958. But the effort faded and the insect returned from neighboring countries.