Photo Feature – Brazil

Risk of Zika for Brazil’s Indigenous


Although most cases remain concentrated in northeastern and southeastern Brazil, the distribution of the Zika virus continues to grow throughout the country. As of February, Brazil was one of thirty countries in the Americas facing a Zika threat. Since the outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil, the disease has been linked to microcephaly, a condition in which an infant is born with an abnormally small head, usually as a result of stunted brain development.

Although Brazil has undergone serious health system reform over the past two decades, many of these reforms have yet to reach Brazil’s indigenous populations living in the Amazon basin. Indigenous peoples make up 900,000 of Brazil’s 198 million people. As a poor, rural, and underrepresented portion of the Brazilian population, indigenous communities often face shortages of health professionals, medication, and technical medical equipment. These deficiencies make the prospect of Zika in indigenous populations particularly threatening, as treatment and control of the disease will be particularly challenging without sufficient access to care and treatment.



Harland Dahl is a junior in Pierson College. She is a Political Science major and is from San Luis Obispo, California. She can be contacted at


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