Zika in Florida

Zika virus has been in the news all summer long, but it’s mainly been a concern for travelers. It now appears, however, that Zika virus is present in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and prevention issued a press release stating that fourteen cases of Zika virus infection in Florida were probably caused by local mosquito bites.

Zika transmission

Zika virus infections were first confirmed in Brazil in May 2015. The virus has since spread rapidly throughout Central and South America. Although it can be transmitted from mother to child, through sex, and through blood transfusion, Zika is most commonly transmitted through mosquito bites.

Until recently, Zika was absent from mosquitoes in the United States. Most Americans didn’t have to worry about the virus unless traveling to countries with Zika activity. While there were cases of Zika infection in the U.S., they were a result of travel, childbirth, or sexual transmission. However, it now seems likely that Zika is present in local mosquitoes in Florida.

Zika finds its way to Florida

The State of Florida informed the CDC that four Zika virus infections were probably caused by bites from local Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. This is the first case of mosquito-borne Zika transmission in the contiguous United States. As of now, there are no plans to limit travel to the area.

You can read the CDC press release here.

Preventing Zika virus infections

People infected with Zika virus don’t always show symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they are often mild. That does not mean that Zika is harmless, however. Infection during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects.

Infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are the main means of Zika transmission. There is no vaccine for the virus. Taking measures to prevent mosquito bites can help you stay safe from Zika infections.

  • Keep mosquitoes away from your home by emptying pots and removing standing water.
  • Keep doors and windows closed to keep mosquitoes out of your home. Also consider adding screens on doors and windows.
  • Insect repellent is the number one way to prevent exposure to mosquitoes when spending time outside.
  • Wear clothing that provides coverage and protection.
  • Treat clothing with an insect repellent solution.
  • Mosquitoes that carry Zika bite mostly during the day time.