Zika Virus

As Floridians and travelers become increasingly concerned about the Zika virus, the Florida Department of Health established a Zika Hotline in February of 2016 and has partnered with the Department’s Poison Control Centers to allow the health professionals staffing the Centers to handle these calls. If you have questions about Zika, read the information below or call Florida’s Zika Hotline directly at 855-622-6735.

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What is the Zika virus?

Zika virus disease is caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting up to a week, and many people do not have symptoms or will have only mild symptoms. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe brain defects.

For more detailed information about Zika, call the Zika hotline at 855-622-6735 or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website or the Florida Department of Health Zika page.

What are the symptoms of the Zika virus infection?

The most common symptoms of the Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. Other symptoms include muscle pain and headache. Many people infected with Zika won’t have symptoms or will have mild symptoms, which can last for several days to a week.

For more detailed information about Zika, call the Zika hotline at 855-622-6735 or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website or the Florida Department of Health Zika page.

How do people get infected with Zika?

Zika is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). A pregnant woman can pass Zika to her fetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth. Also, a person with Zika can pass it to his or her sex partners. We encourage people who have traveled to or live in places with Zika to protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites and sexual transmission of Zika.

For more detailed information about Zika, call the Zika hotline at 855-622-6735 or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website or the Florida Department of Health Zika page.

What can I do to prevent mosquito-borne Zika?

Although Zika can be spread by a person infected with Zika to his or her sex partners, you can also be infected by mosquito bites. The best way to prevent Zika is to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites.

  • Use Insect Repellent
    • Apply a DEET-containing insect repellent when outdoors.
    • Always follow the product label instructions.
    • Shower in between applications.
    • Do NOT use on children under 2 months of age.
    • Apply it to your hands and then apply to child’s face.
    • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants.
    • Treat items such a boots, pants, socks, and tents, with permethrin or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
      • Permethrin-treated clothing will protect you after multiple washings. See product information for specifics.
      • If treating the items yourself, follow product instructions.
      • Do not use permethrin products directly on skin.
    • Remove standing water in your yard.
    • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.

For more detailed information about Zika, call the Zika hotline at 855-622-6735 or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website or the Florida Department of Health Zika page.

Can I use insect repellent on children and babies?

Here are some helpful tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how to safely use insect repellent on children and babies: 

  • Parents should read and follow repellent product instructions carefully.
  • Products should be applied to clothing and exposed skin only.
  • Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, or cut/irritated skin.
    • Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
  • Spray formulations should be applied outdoors to minimize inhalant exposure.
  • Combination sunscreen/insect repellent products should be avoided because sunscreen. needs to be reapplied every two hours, but the insect repellent should not be reapplied.
  • Use insect repellents containing DEET when needed.
  • The current AAP and CDC recommendation for children older than 2 months of age is to use 10% to 30% DEET. DEET should not be used on children younger than 2 months of age.
  • The effectiveness is similar for 10% to 30% DEET but the duration of effect varies. Ten percent DEET provides protection for about 2 hours, and 30% protects for about 5 hours. Choose the lowest concentration that will provide the required length of coverage.
  • The concentration of DEET varies significantly from product to product, so read the label of any product you purchase. Children should wash off repellents when they return indoors.
  • As an alternative to DEET, picaridin has become available in the U.S. in concentrations of 5% to10%.
  • Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.
  • When children return indoors, the skin should be washed with soap and water.

For more detailed information about Zika, call the Zika hotline at 855-622-6735 or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website or the Florida Department of Health Zika page.

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