The Florida Department of Health recently issued a reminder about the ongoing presence of Zika virus, which is known to cause severe birth defects. Recent tropical rains mean the entire University of Florida community must remain vigilant in preventing the Zika virus.
While this infection has not yet been locally transmitted in Gainesville, UF students, faculty and staff may be at some—albeit low—risk because of the amount of travel to and from endemic areas, potential for sexual transmission of the virus, and the high percentage of women of childbearing age in our community.
From Florida DOH:
Zika virus continues to circulate in the Americas and poses a risk for pregnant women and their partners who travel to Zika-active areas (see https://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html for current active areas). Transmission can occur through the bite of an infected mosquito, as well as through sexual contact. Zika infection during pregnancy can result in severe birth defects to the fetus. Pregnant women are recommended to not travel to areas with documented or likely Zika virus transmission. If a pregnant woman does elect to travel to a Zika active area, or has potential exposure through sexual contact with a potentially exposed partner, testing for Zika virus is recommended. Testing of infants born to women potentially exposed to Zika virus during pregnancy is also recommended, as well as a comprehensive physical exam, neurologic assessment, neuroimaging, and hearing assessment.
UF continues to closely monitor the spread of the Zika virus, working with the Dean of Students Office, Student Health Care Center, local and state Departments of Health, UF Health and university experts to ensure the safety of our campus community.
The best way to prevent Zika is to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Keep mosquitos outside by ensuring screens on windows and doors are in good repair.
- Control mosquitoes around your home: Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out any items that hold water.
For the most current information on Zika, please visit one of the following official websites:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/zika
- Florida Department of Health: www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/zika-virus
- UF Zika Prevention: http://zika.ufl.edu
Should you have any personal medical concerns, please contact the Student Health Care Center: (352) 392-1161.