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Elmo and Raya fight zika (Video!)

Sesame Street: Screenshot

Zika is still spreading widely across Latin America. 34 countries in the Americas are experiencing what’s called “autochtonous” transmission of the disease, according to the latest reportfrom the World Health Organization. This means that cases are locally acquired from mosquitos transmitting the disease within the country’s territories.  In Colombia alone, the WHO reports over 55,000 suspected cases of the virus since October. 

Zika is rarely deadly, it can cause serious neurological disorders, including among babies born from women who contract the virus. 

To stop the virus’ spread requires, above all, what’s known as “vector control.” This means killing mosquitos, getting rid of breeding grounds, as well as preventive measures like bug spray and long sleeves.

So far, governments in Latin American have enlisted public health officials, police, and even the military to stamp out mosquito breeding grounds. 

And now, there’s another force out their to fight Zika:The Muppets.

Muppets Elmo and Raya, with the help of the Pan American Health Organization, have a message for spanish speaking children in Latin America: “If the mosquito doesn’t bite, adios Zika!”

Here is how the Pan American Health Organization introduces the new campaign:

“Elmo and Raya’s first message aims to stop mosquito-borne illnesses before they start. Children are taught not to let standing water accumulate, to empty and cover water bowls and basins, and to cover trash containers, all to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds.” 

“The second PSA focuses on prevention: Elmo and Raya show children that wearing long sleeves and pants, using repellent, and keeping doors and windows screened can help protect them and curb the spread of the virus.”

Muppets are fun. They are also an important part of what is emerging as a fully integrated public health campaign that enlists all sectors of society—even children—to stop the spread of this disease.