Zika Outbreak in Brazil: In Times of Political and Scientific Uncertainties Mosquitoes Can Be Stronger Than a Country
In 2015, Zika virus turned into a global threat after the detection of congenital microcephaly in pregnant women infected with the virus in Brazil. Zika is a vector-borne disease transmitted by an endemic mosquito in tropical countries, Aedes aegypti, which is also responsible for transmitting other diseases like dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. Researchers, policymakers and the general public were scared by an unknown disease in an uncertain political context in Brazil. During this period, many questions remain unanswered, such as those regarding the forms of transmissions, the vectoral competence of other species of mosquitoes, serological tests’ confidence, the significant presence of other neurological diseases transmitted by Zika, the burden of social and environmental determinants of health and social iniquity in Zika Congenital Syndrome and its consequences. Only mosquitoes’ guilt and new technological strategies to control them were highlighted. This chapter aims to analyse the Zika outbreak in Brazil from 2015 to 2017 with a focus on scientific and policy responses in Brazil. The chapter discusses how the political construction of science produces visibilities and performative existences of non-humans, especially in a country where mosquitoes, poverty and political instability seem to be endemic.
This work was partially supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under ZIKAlliance Grant Agreement no. 734548, and by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation/Vice-Presidency of Research and Biological Collections-Fiocruz/VPPCB and the Newton Fund/British Council. We also would like to acknowledge Javier Lezaun from INSIS—University of Oxford, Ilana Lowy from CERMES 3-Paris, and Ann H. Kelly from Kings College of London, for their partnership and discussions in our research projects on Zika.