Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

NPR correspondent Lourdes Garcia-Navarro is most at home when she's on the move. Born in London, the journalist has lived in the United States, Colombia, Afghanistan, Israel and Mexico City. She currently covers the Middle East for NPR, and is based in Jerusalem.

After covering Iraq as NPR News' Baghdad Bureau Chief since February 2008, Garcia-Navarro made another move: relocating to Israel in April 2009 to become NPR's correspondent based in Jerusalem.

Prior to reporting from Baghdad, Garcia-Navarro spent three years as NPR's foreign correspondent in Mexico City, reporting from that region as well as on special assignments abroad. Her depth of reporting brought an insider's cultivated perspective to a territory that also embraces her family's roots (incidentally, her parents are from the region).

Garcia-Navarro got her start in journalism as a freelancer with the BBC World Service and Voice of America, reporting from Cuba, Syria, Panama and Europe. She later became a producer for Associated Press Television News (APTN) before transitioning to AP Radio. While there, Garcia-Navarro covered post-Sept. 11 events in Afghanistan and developments in Jerusalem. From 2002 to 2004, she was based in Iraq.

Why journalism? Garcia-Navarro says that she likes "to tell people's stories, to make their lives real and vivid," adding that it's "an important job and I love doing it."

Garcia-Navarro holds a B.S. in International Relations from Georgetown University and an M.A. in journalism from City University in London. She was the recipient of the Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize in 2006 for a two-part series "Migrants' Job Search Empties Mexican Community," and also shared in two awards honoring NPR News' Iraq reporting: a Peabody Award in 2005, and a 2007 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton Award.

You wouldn't think of calling a mosquito "man's best friend." But that's the nickname that biologist Denise Valle uses for Aedes aegypti, the species that's been spreading the Zika virus in Brazil and many other countries in Latin America.

I think "man's best enemy" might be better.

The thing is, this mosquito likes to live near humans.

For Carnival in Brazil, lots of women don giant feather headdresses and skimpy bikinis.

But for a pre-Carnival event, Elaine Cuoto is dressed as a mosquito — complete with a long proboscis and gossamer wings.

She is part of a group of health workers dancing by a metro station in a working-class neighborhood of Rio's north zone. A few others are wearing mosquito costumes as well. And they're singing a catchy tune:

"If Zika attacks, use this number to report it, 7-4-6. Pay attention!"

How much harm can the Zika virus do?

That's the question that is bedeviling researchers in Brazil. It's not just the matter of a possible link to brain damage in babies born to mothers who contracted the virus during pregnancy. There have also been suspected cases of adult patients who suffered temporary hearing loss.

Researchers are trying to make sense of it all, and yet they lack very basic information. Even the number of cases and the degree to which it has spread are unknown.

Dr. João Ricardo de Almeida is part of a team in Brazil that's investigating the cases of microcephaly — brain damage in infants born to mothers who contracted Zika virus during their pregnancy. He's examined dozens of brain scans, and he says that the scans are "very scary to look at."

"You see very profound abnormalities," says the neuro-radiologist. "Usually it's striking."

And they're notably different than scans of other babies born with the birth defect.

"We are alone. We have been abandoned by the state," says Marilia Lima, cradling her 2 1/2-month-old son, Arthur, against her chest.

Arthur is one of some 3,500 babies born with microcephaly, a birth defect that has been linked to Zika virus, since the virus was identified in Brazil in May. Although a definitive cause-and-effect relationship has not been proven, both Brazilian and international doctors believe there is indeed a connection.

Instead of the Summer Games, you might as well call these the gloomy games.

Back when Rio de Janeiro was awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics, seven years ago, the country was on a high. The economy was growing, the middle class was expanding and the country seemed finally to be realizing its potential.

Marcelo Barreto, a famous Brazilian TV sports journalist who has covered mega sporting events all over the world for two decades, recalls that electric atmosphere when his home city got the games in 2009.

María Mercedes Vittar is a human resources manager and a tall, willowy mother of two.

When we meet, she has 7-month-old Lupita in her arms. The baby is the product of a short-term relationship Vittar had with a co-worker. Vittar's other daughter, Azul, age 3, is spending the day with her father, Vittar's former boyfriend with whom she had a five-year-relationship, since ended.

So Vittar has two children, with two different fathers, and she is currently unattached. And she's perfectly fine with that.

Brazil's Ministry of Health made an unprecedented announcement this month: It told women in the northeast of the country not to get pregnant for the foreseeable future.

And it's all because of a mosquito — the Aedes aegypti species, which can spread a variety of diseases, including Zika virus. Health experts in Brazil are concerned that the virus, whose symptoms are typically a low-grade fever and bright red rash, might be having a devastating impact on newborns.

It happened slowly at first. The reservoir's water level dropped, so the resort extended the boat launch ramp.

Then they had to add another extension.

Eventually, the water dropped so much that business dried up — along with the lake.

"For this coming weekend, there's not one reservation. This business was 98 percent dependent on the water. Now that the water's gone, the customers are gone as well," says Francisco Carlos Fonseca, the manager of Marina Confiança.

As you walk into the office of Brazilian Sen. Ivo Cassol, there is a giant picture of him on the side of the door. A Bible sits on his office coffee table and pictures of his family adorn the walls.

He's charming, with a wide, toothy smile and a firm handshake. "Darling," he calls me.

Why are we meeting Ivo Cassol?

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