In Brazil, Zika is framed as a virus transmitted only by mosquitoes and the epidemic as a concern only for women. In order to examine this misconception, this article investigates the multiple transmission routes of the Zika virus: vectorial transmission (via mosquito bite), transmission through bodily fluids (via, for example, semen), and vertical transmission (via the placenta to the fetus in the womb). When analyzing the passages of pathogens from one organism to another and the ways in which these passages are understood, investigated and (dis)considered, we simultaneously address biological and cultural aspects.
We argue that an anthropology centered on transmission can elucidate the bodily materialities, symbolic meanings, and political consequences of the movement of pathogens, understood as relationships between humans and non-humans. We suggest here that this “anthropology of transmission” can also lead to the development of more comprehensive and inclusive public policies.