Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type



Languages & Literature

First Advisor

Ryan Hallows

Second Advisor

Jennifer Glowienka

Third Advisor

Elvira Roncalli


Zika is a disease common in tropical areas that is transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes. However, Zika can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse. In 2016, the World Health Organization declared the spread of Zika to be a public health emergency. The year before, the Brazilian Ministry of Health reported an unusual increase in cases of microcephaly in the state of Pernambuco, located in the northeast of Brazil, and in 2016 the first outbreak of Zika in the continental United States occurred in Florida. Additionally, there is a causal relationship between prenatal Zika virus infection and microcephaly and other serious brain abnormalities. This thesis discusses the consequences of the Zika virus and investigates the reasons why some populations in the United States and Brazil were disproportionately impacted by the effects of the Zika virus. This thesis also discusses the responses made by the United States and Brazil in response to the Zika virus and proposes responses to limit the unequal effects of the Zika virus on vulnerable populations in the future.