Unsanitary conditions in slums provide breeding grounds for mosquitos spreading Zika virus

Unsanitary conditions in Brazil’s slum areas are provided potential breeding grounds for Aedes mosquitoes that can transmit viruses including Zika and dengue.

In the city of Recife, capital of the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco, ditches are found with waste water and even other garbage discharged by local residents, with foul smells given out from time to time.

Algae and weeds have grown in the water, and rat carcasses as well as other floating garbage have become a breeding ground for mosquitoes that spread various diseases.

“Mosquitoes are all around here at night and all the windows have to be closed. Every household here has prepared pain killers,” said Celia Pereira Caneiro, a Recife resident who explained that the pain killers are used in case one aches after being bitten by mosquitoes.

“The water in this ditch has been here for a long time and it will draw a lot of mosquitoes at night, making it impossible for people to sleep,” said Jose Roberto Ferreira da Silva, another Recife resident.

Given the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in the country, the Brazilian government has deployed troops to wipe out potential breeding grounds for the Aedes mosquitoes.

Residents in the slum in Recife said they hope the movement can reach their area soon and help them eliminate the mosquitoes.

“It’s hard for us to use anti-mosquito products. There are mosquitoes everyday yet we can’t afford to use such products everyday. The anti-mosquito products have to be applied every one or two hours. For a household like mine with six people, it’s unaffordable,” said da Silva.

“The troops haven’t come to our region so far. When do they come, we will open the doors to welcome them to help us,” said Caneiro.

Adding to the unsanitary conditions is residents’ lack of knowledge about the virus and related diseases since many people consider the Zika virus similar to the Chikungunya virus, which can also be carried by Aedes mosquitoes.

When asked as to whether there are any Zika infection cases, Caneiro just referred to it as Chikungunya infections, which shows some similar symptoms to the Zika virus.

“Many people here have been infected and I used to be one of them. I got Chikungunya fever after being bitten by mosquitoes on my leg,” she said. (CCTV/Reuters)