Zika Virus Update #3: Q&A

By Douglas A. Holt, MD
Andor Szentivanyi Professor of Medicine
Director, Division of Infectious Diseases and International Medicine
USF Health Morsani College of Medicine

(As of 8/04/2016)

What is known about the Zika outbreak in Miami?
  • Mosquitoes in Miami have infected at least 14 people with Zika virus.
  • A specific Miami neighborhood referred to as Wynwood has now been declared an area with active Zika virus transmission.
  • This means that everyone who resides in or travels frequently to this area is at ongoing risk for being infected with Zika.
  • The following steps are being taken to prevent Zika from spreading.
    1. Mosquito control is taking aggressive mosquito control measures within a minimum of an expanded 200 yards around the residence where a case of Zika infection has been reported.
    2. Mosquito control is testing mosquitoes for Zika.
    3. A medical advisory for the area has been issued through media, targeted outreach, health care provider notification and guidance targeted to OB/GYNs, midwives, Healthy Start, and others caring for pregnant women.
    4. Voluntary isolation will be recommended for infected individuals for 7 to 10 days from the onset of symptoms.
    5. The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) is going door-to-door to offer testing to identify more people infected, which will help determine the extent of the outbreak.
    6. FDOH will provide Zika Prevention Kits to pregnant women living in the area.
  • Based on past experiences with dengue virus, also spread by the same mosquitoes, it is hoped that the outbreak will remain contained to this small area.
  • However, Zika virus has proven to be very unpredictable, so we expect additional areas across the state to be identified as having active Zika virus transmission.
What does this all mean for Tampa Bay?
  • Pregnant women are advised to avoid travel to the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami. If they have recently traveled to, or lived in, this area they should consult their obstetrician about being tested for Zika virus.
  • Everyone should continue to take steps to prevent mosquito bites.
    1. Remove standing water from inside and outside your home or workplace. Check containers such as flowerpots, buckets, animal water bowls, and children’s pools. Scrub them clean and turn them over or cover them so they don’t collect water.
    2. Use an insect repellant, like bug spray or lotion, that’s registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). All EPA-registered bug sprays and lotions are checked to make sure they are safe and work well. If you use sunscreen, apply it first before bug spray or lotion.
    3. Wear a hat, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes and socks when outdoors. Treat clothes, shoes and other gear with bug spray called permethrin or wear treated clothes if you’re hiking, camping, or doing other outdoor activities.
    4. Use air conditioning and screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out. Make sure screens on doors and windows don’t have holes or tears in them.
  • Health care providers are being asked to remain alert for any patient with an illness that might be Zika fever and to notify the Health Department at 813-307-8010. Any two of the following clinical manifestations should suggest Zika fever: Fever, rash, joint aches and conjunctivitis or pink eye.
  • Any pregnant woman should also now be asked about travel to the Wynwood neighborhood in addition to all the other countries outside the United States identified as having active Zika virus transmission. Additional areas will be included as they are identified by the FDOH. 
What is USF Health doing to respond if mosquitoes in Tampa Bay also spread Zika virus?
  • Our physicians and medical providers have already begun screening our patients for symptoms suggesting Zika fever and all pregnant women for potential exposure to Zika virus.
  • The Wynwood area of Miami has been added to the areas of concern and additional areas will be included as they are identified by the Florida DOH.
  • We are working closely with the Department of Health-Hillsborough County to test patients who meet the criteria for Zika infection.
  • Medical providers are following the recently released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on Caring for Pregnant Women with Possible Zika Virus Exposure.

Where can I get more information?