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Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of congenital brain abnormalities. Its consequences to pregnancies has made governments, national and international agencies issue advices and recommendations to women. There is a clear need to investigate how the Zika outbreak affects the decisions that women take concerning their lives and the life of their families, as well as how women are psychologically and emotionally dealing with the outbreak. We conducted a qualitative study to address the impact of the Zika epidemic on the family life of women living in Brazil, Puerto Rico, and the US, who were affected by it to shed light on the social repercussions of Zika. Women were recruited through the snowball sampling technique and data was collected through semi-structured interviews. We describe the effects in mental health and the coping strategies that women use to deal with the Zika epidemic. Zika is taking a heavy toll on women’s emotional well-being. They are coping with feelings of fear, helplessness, and uncertainty by taking drastic precautions to avoid infection that affect all areas of their lives. Coping strategies pose obstacles in professional life, lead to social isolation, including from family and partner, and threaten the emotional and physical well-being of women. Our findings suggest that the impacts of the Zika epidemic on women may be universal and global. Zika infection is a silent and heavy burden on women’s shoulders.


This article was previously published in Cadernos de Saúde Pública:

This article is published in Open Access under the Creative Commons Attribution license, which allows use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, without restrictions, as long as the original work is correctly cited.

Other titles:

  • A vida das mulheres na era do Zika: vidas controladas por mosquitos?
  • Las vidas de las mujeres en tiempos de Zika: ¿vidas controladas por mosquitos?



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