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Am J Public Health. 2017 Apr;107(4):517-524. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2017.303652. Epub 2017 Feb 16.

Leaking Containers: Success and Failure in Controlling the Mosquito Aedes aegypti in Brazil.

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Ilana Löwy is with CERMES 3 INSERM, CNRS, EHESS, Universite Paris V, France.


In 1958, the Pan American Health Organization declared that Brazil had successfully eradicated the mosquito Aedes aegypti, responsible for the transmission of yellow fever, dengue fever, chikungunya, and Zika virus. Yet in 2016 the Brazilian minister of health described the situation of dengue fever as "catastrophic." Discussing the recent epidemic of Zika virus, which amplified the crisis produced by the persistence of dengue fever, Brazil's president declared in January 2016 that "we are in the process of losing the war against the mosquito Aedes aegypti." I discuss the reasons for the failure to contain Aedes in Brazil and the consequences of this failure. A longue durée perspective favors a view of the Zika epidemic that does not present it as a health crisis to be contained with a technical solution alone but as a pathology that has the persistence of deeply entrenched structural problems and vulnerabilities.

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