Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff implemented a nationwide mandate this week allowing government health workers to enter private properties to crush Zika breeding grounds. Exterminators now have the right to inspect and disinfect households, even without the presence of its owners.
The nationwide policy isn't the first of its kind in Brazil. The Wall Street Journal noted that the country enacted a similar directive in the early 1900s to rid Rio de Janeiro of yellow fever-carrying mosquitoes.
Still, the new countermeasure has raised human rights concerns. Citizens fear the sudden intrusions would violate their right to privacy. Some have even required health workers to present a court warrant authorizing their Zika raid.
Brazilian law expert Luiz Flavio Gomes sees no reason for people to be distressed, as Rousseff's mandate would play a huge role in curbing the spread of the Zika virus.
This is the first time I remember since the start of last century, when we had the so called Vaccine War, that the government adopted a measure like this, Gomes explained. But the situation right now is dangerous and people are aware of the problem and likely to support the government's decision.
People who are bitten by Zika virus-carrying mosquitoes will often experience fever, rashes and joint pains. These are relatively mild symptoms compared to other epidemics. However, the Zika virus has been linked to the ballooning cases of birth defects in Brazil.
According to Health ministry sources roughly 4,000 cases of microcephaly have been reported in Brazil in 2015. Most of the cases were from ZIka-stricken areas. By comparison, the country only had 147 reported cases of microcephaly in 2014.
A team of high-ranking epidemiologists and neurologists has already been deployed in Brazil to investigate the outbreak. Lavinia Schuler-Faccini, the president of the Brazil Medical Genetic Society, said researchers have yet to discover conclusive evidence that links the Zika virus to microcephaly in newborns, per Time.
Most of the babies we are seeing, if we test them for the virus, the genetic material for the virus is not there, said Schuler-Faccini. Our inferences are made from maternal history of infection or something that is comparable to a Zika infection like fever not too high, rash, and pain in the joints.
Zika's potential link to microcephaly has deeply concerned the Brazilian citizenry, and has brought extreme pressure on the government to address the matter.
As of the moment, Brazilian authorities have been busy cleansing waterlogged areas, while health officials have launched a nationwide campaign that intends to further educate people on the Zika virus, and its carrier the Aedes aegypti mosquito.