W6 Activity: Zika Virus in Brazil

As many of you know, one of the most pressing global health issues that is taking the media by storm is the Zika virus, which as of recently has sparked more buzz due to the 2016 Summer Olympics that take place in the heart of Rio De Janeiro, a hot spot of the disease. This virus is spread through one particular species of mosquitoes, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, and has deadly consequences. Aside from the temporary rash, sore eyes, a nasty headache and a raised temperature, this virus affects the unborn fetuses of pregnant women by causing many developmental issues in the brain. While this disease is not new to the world, a sudden outbreak stemming from the tropical regions of South America is causing a major stir, especially with the 2016 Summer Olympics being held there. Not only is this affecting the general population in Brazil, outsiders coming in and traveling back to their home countries run the high risk of catching this virus. So, take a large population of people from countries all over the world and bring in athletes, family members, and others that have a high risk of being infected and throw them into the middle of a Zika epidemic breeding ground.

So for researchers, to better protect society and the entire world perhaps, many precautions have been made, as well as, many possible answers to this deadly virus. For now, individuals in Brazil are told to protect against the bites of the mosquitoes by wearing long sleeve, tight clothes, use bug repellent, nets, and avoid common areas where these bugs breed. However, researchers are looking towards finding a way to wipe out the population of these mosquitoes further more to stop the epidemic from continuing. Perhaps one of the most interesting things I can pull from my time here at Michigan State was a research paper I wrote about scientists genetically modifying mosquitoes that carry diseases in order to wipe out the population as a whole. In order to do this, scientists have come up with two possible solutions: breed a population of offspring that can only have female offspring that are able to survive, essentially placing a self-destructing gene in males to prevent the mating and continuation of diseases, which in the case of my paper, was Malaria. The other was to genetically change the makeup of said mosquito to mate with other mosquitoes to be unable to produce an offspring, ending the species of the mosquito. However, in doing so ecological and ethical theories come into play, whether this killing of one species will throw off the entire ecosystem and what the detrimental effects this will cause. In addition to this, other ethical issues are being sparked, such as the right to abortion, as fetus that may and have been affected by the Zika virus could/possibly should be terminated to prevent a life of pan and suffering.

As of right now, the ethical decisions that  must be made in combat against this deadly virus are for society as a whole to decide, both the life of a species and of an unborn human being.


Hanlon, Micheal. “How Scared Should We Be of the Zika Virus? ” The Sunday Times. Accessed August 11, 2016. http://za2uf4ps7f.search.serialssolutions.com/?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&ctx_enc=info%3Aofi%2Fenc%3AUTF-8&rfr_id=info%3Asid%2Fsummon.serialssolutions.com&rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Ajournal&rft.genre=article&rft.atitle=ZIKA+VIRUS%3F&rft.jtitle=Sunday+Times&rft.au=Michael+Hanlon&rft.date=2016-01-31&rft.pub=News+International+Trading+Limited&rft.issn=0956-1382&rft.externalDocID=3937757321&paramdict=en-US

Kindhauser, Mary Allen, a Tomas Allen, a Veronika Frank, a Ravi Santhana a & Christopher Dye.  “Zika: The Origin and Spread of a Mosquito-borne Virus.” World Health Organization. Accessed August 10, 2016. http://www.who.int/bulletin/online_first/16-171082/en/.


2 thoughts on “W6 Activity: Zika Virus in Brazil

  1. Tess,
    I really enjoyed reading your article about the Zika virus in Brazil. I liked how you mentioned the 2016 Summer Olympics because this virus has impacted it greatly. Many athletes did not participate in the Olympics this year because of the virus, which shows how serious it is. In the article you posted, Zika: the origin and spread of a mosquito-borne, I think the author is coming from an ecological/biological approach. The article talks about where the virus comes from and how its spread. In your post you talked about how ecological and ethical theories come into play when discussing ways to try and stop this virus. Scientists have to be careful when finding a solution to this virus because like you said, it could throw off the whole ecosystem. But then again we have to consider how many lives that it’s taking and that it can even affect unborn children. I think that applying anthropology contributed to a better understanding of the Zika virus because anthropologists can help look for a way to wipe out the mosquitos and stop the epidemic from continuing. You made a lot of good points in your post but I really liked how you applied your own personal experience from Michigan State.

  2. Hi Tess. Hearing about all of the uproar going on in the Olympics about this virus had me interested to read your post, and you made many great points about it and how experts are trying to control it. I liked how you talked about your research paper about eliminating unwanted mosquitos. I didn’t know that genetic engineers were capable of applying such modifications on mosquitos, or any organisms for that matter. The Zika virus appears to be very harmful and should be taken seriously, especially with all of the outsiders visiting Rio during these olympic games because they are that much more vulnerable to contract the virus. When I read the article you posted I came across some of the findings that they mentioned and understanding the history and trends of Zika provided good knowledge of the virus affecting people today. Applying anthropology to this issue could help identify where the virus is most prevalent, and possible solutions to treat it. Within a culture there are many customs and similarities that individuals share, health being one of them. Being experienced with people of a culture also gives an insight to other outside factors such as history, experiences, and trends.

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