Exactly a year ago, I was in Brazil, working on a story about what it’s like to be in the middle class there.
Lizzie and Eleonora together in Brazil last year.
And as part of that story, I met Eleonora de Melo and her family. My producers and I had dinner with them at their house outside Sao Paulo. Eleonora is 27 and works in a boutique in a high end mall, and she’s saving up to open her own beauty salon.
We keep in loose touch via social media, and a couple of months ago, she posted online that she was pregnant.
She’s now four and a half months along. She and her husband have been trying for this baby for awhile and getting pregnant wasn’t easy.
Now, in the middle of an already tough time in Brazil — the country’s in recession — Eleonora is terrified of the Zika virus. “I’m really scared,” she said. And solid information is hard to come by. She added, “the media news that we get shows that things are not too clear.”
Zika has been linked to brain damage and microcephaly in fetuses. But at first, Eleonora told me, the government was not saying that. Her own doctor has told her that there is a link, and has urged her to wear long sleeves and use bug repellent all the time.
It’s a scary time in Brazil. There’s a recession, inflation is high and mistrust of President Dilma Roussef’s government is rampant. That can make it even harder for people to trust what they hear about Zika.
Eleonora told me that rumors are even flying around that Zika was caused by a bad batch of vaccines. She wants clear answers, and to know how to protect herself and her unborn baby. “We just want the government to tell us: what is the cause of microcephaly and what exactly can we do,” she said. “Because this way it’s really confusing.”