Tomás Munita
Tomás Munita

Threatening new viruses emerge abruptly in our modern world, provoking stark headlines and demands for bold government action—but in most cases the origins are complex and go unnoticed as they furtively develop over several years. This holds true for Zika, a mysterious virus spread by disease-carrying mosquitos and sexual contact. Ground zero for Zika’s most recent outburst was the poor, sprawling favelas in northeastern Brazil, where the Aedes aegypti mosquito flourished amid the abundant litter, standing water, clogged drains, and flimsy dwellings commonly found in these vulnerable communities.

Zika’s typical symptoms are relatively unremarkable, often hindering its detection. Its most feared consequence is a condition called microcephaly, in which a baby is born with severe brain malformations that can lead to physical and mental handicaps. Declared a public health emergency in February 2016 by the World Health Organization, Zika’s origins remain unclear, and without a vaccine or tangible control methods to prevent its spread, this resilient virus may not be eradicated any time soon.

Tomás Munita is an independent documentary photographer based in Chile whose main interests are social and environmental issues. This story was a two-part digital feature for National Geographic in February 2016.

Artist Bios

  • Tomás Munita

    Tomás Munita is a Chilean documentary photographer primarily interested in social issues. His work focuses on exploring ritual, culture, and crisis in places such as Latin America, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. He is known for his work covering the HIV epidemic, the Kashmir earthquake, conflict in Kabul, the plight of the Rohingya people, and, recently, cowboys in Patagonia and Zika for National Geographic. Munita holds a number of awards, including an ICP Young Photographer Infinity Award in 2005, two World Press Photo awards, the 2006 Leica Oskar Barnack award, the Henri Nannen Preis in 2010, an All Roads photography award from National Geographic in 2010, and a Visa d’Or News award in 2012. Munita’s work regularly appears in major publications such as The New York Times, National Geographic, Geo, Time, Courrier International, and others.


  • National Geographic

    National Geographic

    Established in 1888, National Geographic is a trusted print and digital publication offering stories that illuminate, inspire, and reveal. Our mission is to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of cultures, the sciences, and the natural world. We advance that mission by creating visually stunning, richly reported photojournalism and distinguished, impartial coverage of the globe’s most pressing issues. National Geographic (@natgeo) has more than 284 million followers.

Brazil’s Battle Against Zika

 archive : 2016

Featuring: Tomás Munita

Curated by: Mallory Benedict

Presented by: National Geographic
  • National Geographic


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