RIO DE JANEIRO, July 14. /TASS/. A total of 5.9 million checks have been conducted by Rio’s public health officials between January and June to pinpoint breeding sites of the Aedes aegypti mosquitos responsible for spreading the Zika virus, Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes told Tass Thursday.
"About 3,000 employees of the municipal public health department have been working non-stop to eradicate Aedes aegypti in order to contain the spread of the virus," said the city mayor.
"In 2015, they carried out more than 10 million inspections on various premises to uncover these insects' suspected breeding grounds. Efforts are continuing, with already 5.9 million checks done in the first six months of this year," the city mayor said.
Like other diseases caused by bites from Aedes aegypti, Zika is a seasonal fever, more frequent in hot summer months than in winter, he added.
"As expected, following a significant hike in Zika virus cases at the start of the year, figures have substantially declined during the autumn chill," he said. The 2016 Summer Olympics will take place during Brazil’s wintertime, "which is why the number of Zika cases is forecasted to drop further once the competitions begin," Eduardo Paes said.
According to the Rio Mayor’s Office, the number of infected patients in the city has fallen more than 20-fold in the first half of the year, from 7,747 cases registered in January to 349 infections recorded in June.
On February 1, the World Health Organization declared Zika a global health emergency. The virus was first isolated in 1947 in the Zika Forest of Uganda. Last May, once the disease had started rapidly spreading to Brazil then into other countries of the Americas, it became a hot topic for discussion.
At the moment, various outbreaks have been documented in Asia, Africa, as well as in South and North America and the Pacific region.
Medical professionals have expressed special concern for infected pregnant women, whose children risk developing brain-damaging microcephaly.