HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Hillsborough County resident contracted the mosquito-borne Zika Virus during a trip to Venezuela in December. That person is one of three Floridians to contract the virus while traveling abroad.
The other two Floridians who contracted the virus are Miami-Dade County residents who traveled to Columbia in December.
State health officials say there are no locally acquired cases of the Zika Virus in Florida.
Outbreaks of Zika Virus have occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas. See a complete list of countries where the Zika Virus has been transmitted. Because the Aedes species mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, it is likely that outbreaks will spread to new countries.
The Centers for Disease Control issued a travel notice for the virus on January 15, advising pregnant women to avoid traveling to 14 countries and territories in Central and South America and the Caribbean where the virus transmission is ongoing.
Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes).
The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week.
According to the CDC, a possible link between Zika infection in pregnant women and subsequent birth defects is being investigated in Brazil.
Officials are trying to prevent a local epidemic. They’re warning people to protect themselves from being bitten and to reconsider traveling overseas, for now.
“Just do whatever you can to prevent from being bitten in the first place,” said Steve Huard with the Florida Department of Health.
Mosquito control sprayed around the victim’s home. Residents are asked to dump standing water, wear protective clothing and use repellent.
“There (are) a lot of mosquitoes, you never know what you’re going to get,” area resident Adriana Moreno said.
Moreno is just hearing about the virus. She said warnings are spreading fast in Colombia.
“They were suggesting people, women, not to get pregnant until July 2016,” she said.
Moreno hasn’t visited Colombia in three years and doesn’t plan to go back anytime soon, especially since she’d like to have a family one day. “Another thing they were saying on the Colombian news is that if someone gets pregnant, that should be a reason to get an abortion,” she said.
This is the second mosquito advisory in the last year.
“We’ve been under a mosquito advisory since the early part of the summer for West Nile Virus. So even though it’s gotten a little chilly out, it is not cold enough to make a dent in the mosquito population locally,” Huard said.
Health officials said the Zika Virus is not deadly. Rather, it’s like catching a really bad cold. Besides antibiotics, the virus has to run its course. Authorities said if you do plan to travel outside of the United States, be up to date on your shots.