Zika: What you need to know

  • Published
  • By Terry Montrose
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Governor Rick Scott announced on August 1, 2016 that the Florida Department of Health (DOH) has identified 10 additional people in Miami, Florida with the Zika virus who likely contracted it locally through a mosquito bite. That is in addition to the four people identified on July 29, bringing the total to 14 people that have contracted the disease in Miami.

The DOH believes that local transmission of the Zika virus is occurring in one small area in Miami-Dade County, just north of downtown.

Elizabeth Etkin-Kramer, a Miami Beach gynecologist and former president of the Dade County Medical Association, reported to the Miami Herald that the local cluster of Zika is not alarming because it’s contained in a small area.

“Mosquitoes that carry Zika tend to live and die in the same area,” said Etkin-Kramer. “They are homebodies.”

Closer to home, Team MacDIll and Hillsborough County officials are taking Zika seriously.

MacDill’s Public Health and Pest Management offices work closely with Hillsborough County Mosquito control to trap and monitor mosquitoes. In June they captured 12,000 mosquitoes and in July they captured another 1,500 with the latest collection as late as July 19. Not one of those mosquitoes were from the family of mosquitoes that carry Zika, Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus, but that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. Symptoms usually go away within a few days to one week. However, many people infected with Zika don’t have any symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for Zika at this time.

The Aedes mosquito species is known to be an unusually aggressive daytime biter, and they will bite at night, but you don’t have to fall victim to this menace.

The CDC recommends that you use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent. If you want to go the extra step, the CDC can show you how to build a Zika kit that includes mosquito nets, permethrin spray, mosquito larvicides, and insect repellent. 

Also, getting rid of standing water outside, such as old tires, buckets, dog bowls, birdbaths, gutters, and other outdoor containers is critical to reducing the mosquito population.

There have been 10 cases of Zika in Hillsborough County according to the CDC, but there has been no evidence of local spread of Zika virus in the County. Most likely, the 10 individuals were infected while traveling abroad.

Armed with knowledge and proper preparation, there is no reason you cannot make the most of this summer while also staying safe.