"BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazil's health minister said Friday that authorities were "absolutely sure" that the Zika virus is connected to devastating birth defects and rejected criticism that the government was slow to investigate the surge of cases that set off international alarms.
Marcelo Castro made the remarks during an interview with The Associated Press in Brazil's capital. He spoke a day before tens of thousands of soldiers and health inspectors were to take to the streets in an unprecedented drive to encourage residents to be vigilant for mosquito breeding sites. The goal: visit 3 million homes in more than 350 cities.
Brazil is at the epicenter of a mosquito-borne virus that has been linked to rare birth defects known as microcephaly. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned pregnant women to avoid traveling to more than two dozen countries and territories in the Americas where active outbreaks are taking place."