Zika Background & Action Items

Note: This information is provided to assist the tourism industry in understanding the Zika virus, answering question from visitors and steps everyone can take in eliminating mosquito breeding areas at your business and home and reducing the threat.

What is Zika:

To review the latest information and updates on the Zika virus, visit http://www.cdc.gov/zika/.

Zika in Florida:

The Zika virus emerged last year in South America and Leon County Division of Tourism Development staff have monitored developments since the first travel-related case appeared in the state earlier this year.  Until recently, Zika virus cases in Florida resulted from residents contracting the virus while travelling to South America and the Caribbean.

There have been no Zika virus cases in Leon County.

Leon County officials are busy trapping and monitoring mosquitoes in the area, educating the public about eliminating mosquito breeding sites and working with the Florida Department of Health in monitoring confirmed Zika cases throughout the state.  Part of the county’s monitoring system involves traps placed throughout the area targeting the mosquito that spreads the virus. Meanwhile, Leon County Mosquito Control responded to more than 6,000 calls for service since January. 

Your role, at work and at home:

Eliminating mosquito breeding sites at work and at home is critical in controlling the insect population.  At least once a week, empty any standing water in tires, buckets, bird baths, trash containers or saucers under flower pots, pool and boat covers, toys, clogged roof gutters, etc.  Cover containers used to store water (rain barrels, cisterns, etc.). When covering a large container is not possible (and water not intended for drinking), treat the water with a larvicide.

Shade and standing water provide an ideal environment for mosquito breeding.  Eliminate the water and spray shaded areas. As little as a teaspoon or a bottle cap of water is enough for mosquito breeding.

Get your employees and their families involved in eliminating mosquito breeding sites. Leon County and the Florida Department of Health teamed up on a program getting kids involved.  Learn more about the “Spill The Water” campaign here:

http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/spill-the-water/

Prevention:

Avoiding mosquito bites is the best way of preventing Zika and other viruses spread through these insects. 

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Use insect repellents with one of these active ingredients – DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol.  When used as directed, these repellents are safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • Treat clothing and outdoor gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
  • Stay indoors with air conditioning and use window or door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.

Customer Concerns:

The recent incidence of locally transmitted Zika cases in Florida made headlines, prompting warnings from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and health officials in the UK and Canada to those people planning Florida vacations.  These warnings focused on the threat of the virus to pregnant women considering visits to south Florida, specifically a small area (Wynwood) north of downtown Miami.

Expect some concerns by other travelers.  Share this information with your staff; especially those that have direct (in-person, by phone or email) contact with potential visitors.  Reinforce the message that there have been no cases in the Leon County area.

  • Consider sharing “prevention measures” with customers planning on being outdoors.
  • Have insect repellant available for guests in gift shops/retail areas. 
  • Some outdoor-related attractions/activities in South Florida are providing guests with “handy wipes” infused with insect repellant as a courtesy and precaution.

Helpful links:

Center For Disease Control: www.cdc.gov/zika

Florida Department of Health: http://www.floridahealth.gov/index.html

Leon County School & Youth Programs: https://cms.leoncountyfl.gov/Home/Departments/Public-Works/Operations/Mosquito-Control/Community-Education-and-Information/School-and-Youth-Programs

 Leon County Mosquito Control: https://cms.leoncountyfl.gov/Home/Departments/Public-Works/Operations/Mosquito-Control

Mosquito Bite Prevention (CDC document) – use at your discretion for customer information.

For more information or assistance:

Contact Gary Stogner, Senior Marketing Director, Gary.Stogner@VisitTallahassee.com, 850-606-2324

Author:

Visit Tallahassee

Bio:

Leon County Division of Tourism Development (Visit Tallahassee)

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