Description

The research project investigates technologies for controlling mosquito-borne diseases as a window to discuss science and public health policies in Brazil. Amid economic recession and a tumultuous political process, Brazil has also been the epicenter of international concerns about mosquito-borne diseases. In 2015 the country faced puzzling Zika cases, with a possible link to microcephaly in newborns and Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults, as well as a rampant increase in cases and fatality rate on both dengue and chikungunya. Brazil declared “war against the Aedes aegypti mosquito”, the vector transmitting these three diseases, with the motto “a mosquito is not stronger than an entire country”. No preventive vaccine is being distributed in Brazil and there are no specific treatments for these diseases.

New scientific developments propose to control these diseases by manipulating the Aedes aegypti in a number of ways: (1) infection with a strain of bacterium called Wolbachia to hamper its ability to transmit viruses, (2) sterilization through irradiation, and (3) genetic engineering (GE) to limit its reproduction or development. Brazil is the only country in the world currently implementing these three strategies. Luísa combines approaches from history, anthropology, and science and technology studies to trace and analyze the possible social, scientific, and political transformations the implementation of these different strategies can provoke.

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