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Brazil To Fund Vaccine Research For Zika Virus

Update Date: Jan 18, 2016 03:53 PM EST

A vaccine against the Zika virus is essential, so the Brazilian government announces that it will invest in a Sao Paulo-based biomedical research center, called the Butantan Institute.

The very first case of Zika-induced brain damage in a newborn in the U.S. was confirmed in Hawaii on Friday. Hence, the list of countries which have recorded transmission of the virus is rising steadily, after Barbados Saturday reported the first incidents.

The usual symptoms of the illness is a mild fever, rash and joint pain. Even as there is no preventive vaccination or treatment, three testing kits have been developed by Brazil, in order to locate quickly three viruses---Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya---transported by the mosquito, according to BBC News.

Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Castro announced that priority for testing need to be given to pregnant women, as a number of cases of microencephaly, or babies born with abnormally small heads, have been reported. Extra funds have been announced to speedily find a vaccine for Zika.

Jorge Kalil, the director of the Butantan Institute, explained that about three to five years will be taken to develop a vaccine, according to CTV News.

The largest known outbreak of the Zika virus, which leads to birth defects, is Brazil. Since October 2014, about 3,530 babies have been born with microencephaly. Fewer than150 cases were recorded the previous year, in 2014, BBC News noted.

U.S. health officials have issued a travel alert for 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, which include Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guyana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.

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