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As the Zika virus scare spreads around the world after being reported in more than 20 countries, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced his company’s plan to help combat it.
The 31-year-old billionaire posted on his Facebook page Tuesday that the social networking website has partnered with nonprofit Abrasco Divulga in Brazil in "raising awareness" about the virus, an effort they plan to roll out across Latin America.
Included in the post is a video in Portuguese with English subtitles explaining the risks to pregnant women, along with precautions expectant mothers can take to prevent contracting the virus.
"The most important thing is to try to avoid mosquito bites," wrote Zuckerberg. "You can find more advice here: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/zika/."
In just one hour the post received 1,000 comments and more than 12,000 shares. "As a community, we can help fight the Zika virus by raising awareness," Zuckerberg wrote.
The virus is one of the biggest public health challenges right now, especially for pregnant women, as it's suspected of causing a severe birth defect called microcephaly, which causes underdevelopment of the head and brain. Mosquitoes spread the virus and unfortunately there are no medicines or vaccines to treat or prevent it. It has become a big enough concern that the Pentagon announced this week that it would allow pregnant family members of active-duty personnel and civilian Defense Department employees to be re-assigned if they are in areas affected by the Zika virus.
This isn't the first time the outspoken CEO has taken up a major issue. Just last month he shared a photo at the doctor's office with his baby daughter, Max, saying she was getting her doctor-recommended vaccines. The hot-button issue of whether or not vaccines are safe and/or effective has been brewing over the past few years in the United States and even led to many parents' refusal to get them for their children.
Even before the birth of Max, Zuckerberg's first child with wife Priscilla Chan, the CEO said he was a supporter of doctor-recommended vaccines. Last February, for his 2015 book club, A Year Of Books, he chose the book "On Immunity" by Eula Biss as the club's fourth book, writing, "this book explores the reasons why some people question vaccines, and then logically explains why the doubts are unfounded and vaccines are in fact effective and safe."