THE ZIKA virus, now active in 33 countries and territories of the Americas, has a new combatant: the Muppets of Sesame Street.
To help address the Zika epidemic in Latin America and the Caribbean Islands, Elmo of Sesame Street is educating children on how to avoid contracting the virus.
The well-known red Muppet is featured in two 30-second public service video announcements with English, Spanish and Portuguese versions, Parent Heraldreported.
In one video, Elmo and his friend Raya, a green-skinned female Muppet, discuss the importance of getting rid of stagnant water and covering rubbish to prevent Zika-carrier mosquitoes from breeding.
In the other video, the Muppets give tips how to get rid of mosquito bites by putting on trousers and long sleeves, as well as using insect repellent and door and window screens. The two videos end with the same statement: “If the mosquito doesn’t bite, goodbye Zika!”
Sesame Street has teamed up with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) to produce the videos.
“Since these mosquitoes live in and around houses, this will take a concerted effort with intensified community engagement to reduce the number of mosquitoes in the Americas,” Marcos Espinal, director of communicable diseases at the World Health Organisation and PAHO, told USA Today. “We are also looking urgently at improving control methods, including insecticides and other technologies.”
Commenting on the video, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Center for Health Security senior associate Amesh Adalja said that he is hoping that kids will understand and apply the Muppets’ message, even if Elmo does not take his own advice about covering up with clothing.