A land filled with mosquitoes: Fred L. Soper, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the anopheles gambiae invasion of Brazil.

R. M. Packard, P. Gadehla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The success of Fred Soper and the Rockefeller Foundation's International Health Division in eradicating the anopheles gambiae mosquito from Northeast Brazil was a significant watershed in the history of malaria control. It revived faith in vector control strategies and paved the way for the application of eradication methods in the fight against malaria following World War II. Yet Soper's achievement needs to be re-examined from a wider analytical perspective that takes account of the longer epidemiological history of malaria in northeast Brazil and the wider social and economic context within which malaria occurred. This wider perspective suggests that the origins of the 1938/39 malaria epidemic were much more complex than Soper acknowledged. By focusing narrowly on the anopheles gambiae mosquito and its eradication. Soper failed to understand this broader context. This myopia, in turn, permitted Soper to make claims for both the scale of his achievement and its importance for the future of malaria control which were unjustified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-238
Number of pages24
JournalMedical anthropology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1997
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology

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