Epidemiology of Zika Virus in Brazil: Zika infection during pregnancy and Congenital Zika Syndrome (CZS)


This summer 2018 I served as an intern at the Multi-use Laboratory for Research Support in Nephrology and Medical Sciences (LAMAP), at Hospital Universitário Antônio Pedro of Universidade Federal Fluminense in Niterói, a city in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. My previous experiences abroad include a two-month study abroad program at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand working with Burmese migrant workers and refugees near the Thai-Myanmar border, an academic study abroad program in Lyon, France, an internship in New Delhi, India. Locally, I have worked at refugee resettlement agencies, mental health referral centers, and HIV services agencies to help marginalized populations. During my internship I performed data analysis on a large, 5-year cohort study of newborns whose mothers presented a maculopapular rash during pregnancy. This study seeks to understand the clinical and epidemiological manifestations of congenital Zika syndrome and microcephaly, with independent variables including slum residence, drug usage, prenatal care, and others. I also underwent an intensive Portuguese language study, which I plan to continue practicing during the upcoming year. I collaborated with local doctors and specialists, volunteered in Comunidades, met Brazilians affected by the complications of Zika, and expanded my communication skills to include the lusophone world. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and would highly encourage anyone to pursue an international internship, as they provide an on-the-ground perspective and opportunities to expand your cultural knowledge. This academic year I plan to clean, analyze, and interpret this data in order to raise awareness of the congenital Zika syndrome as a public health emergency, I hope that my research will contribute to the scientific knowledge by quantifying the effects of underlying factors that lead to disparities in disease incidence and severity. As a current second-year MPH student in the Epidemiology/Biostatistics concentration at UC Berkeley, I am naturally passionate about infectious diseases and data, and I hope to spend my future career working in the fields of global health and mathematical modeling of infectious diseases. 

Naomi Wilcox
Publication date: 
August 30, 2018
Publication type: 
Student Research