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Brazil Is Using Special Billboards to Lure and Kill Zika-Carrying Mosquitoes

Brazil Faces New Health Epidemic As Mosquito-Borne Zika Virus Spreads RapidlyBrazil Faces New Health Epidemic As Mosquito-Borne Zika Virus Spreads Rapidly
Brazil is tackling a Zika virus epidemic.Photograph by Mario Tama Getty Images

Call it “antiviral marketing.”

Stat News, citing the marketing news site Campaign, reports that at least one pair of billboards in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil has been set up to lure the type of mosquitoes which carry the Zika virus and kill them.

The burgeoning Zika outbreak has evolved into a bona fide public health crisis over the past year, particularly in temperate regions such as Brazil. Much of the concern rests on the fact that the virus can be sexually transmitted and has been definitively linked to serious birth defects (such as abnormally small heads) in the newborn children of infected pregnant women.

The specific billboards cited by Campaign are the brainchild of marketing firm NBS (an euphemistic acronym for “no bull****”). But while the idea is undoubtedly innovative, its effects are relatively meager since most of the Zika-linked birth defects have been occurring outside of Rio (and the devices, which mimic human odors, are pretty expensive to set up).

Several major efforts to fight back against the virus’ spread have centered on eliminating the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes which spread it. For instance, Google (GOOG) has poured $1 million into a U.N. effort in order to, in part, research the best ways to kill of the skeeters and has deployed engineers to help map the virus’ spread.

The ripple effects of Zika have reached U.S. shores, too. On Monday, Democratic presidential front runner Hillary Clinton’s campaign revealed that it was dispatching two top aides to Puerto Rico, which has borne the brunt of the outbreak among U.S. territories, for a fact-finding mission with local officials about the virus and its effects.

But the situation has been even more dire in Brazil. Public health officials now estimate that there are 4,000 Zika-related birth defect cases in the nation, and the pathogen’s spread has thrown a cloud over the upcoming Rio Olympic games.