/ Updated 
By Associated Press

Venezuela authorities have broken their silence on the outbreak of Zika in the country and are pledging to mount a public health campaign to slow the virus' spread.

Health Minister Luisana Melo said Thursday on state television that 4,700 suspected cases of Zika have been recorded in Venezuela.

A Health Ministry employee fumigates against Aedes Aegypti mosquito, in Caracas on January 28, 2016. Venezuela has recorded 4,700 suspected cases of people infected by the Zika virus, which is thought to cause brain damage in babies, the health ministry said on Thursday.JUAN BARRETO / AFP - Getty Images

She says the country will begin fumigation operations and step up training of medical workers to protect against the mosquito-borne illness, which is being studied for possible links to birth defects.

Related Article: Brazil: President Rousseff Declares War on the Zika Virus

Venezuela's socialist administration had been criticized in recent days for failing to publish statistics about Zika or take steps to control the outbreak.

Other Latin American countries are also stepping up mosquito eradication efforts. And some, including neighboring Colombia and Brazil, have recommended that women consider postponing pregnancies.

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