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University Preparedness and Guidelines on Zika

Aug. 5, 2016
To: Faculty, staff and students
From: Linda Stump-Kurnick, Assistant Vice President for Public and Environmental Safety,
Guy Nicolette, Director of the Student Health Care Center

Re: University Preparedness and Guidelines on Zika

The University of Florida continues to monitor the spread of the Zika virus, working closely with local and state Department of Health officials.

The following information on Zika includes:

  • How to protect yourself from Zika, which is especially important if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • What UF is doing to mitigate mosquitoes on campus
  • Where to seek additional information

As a community, we need to be vigilant in our efforts to prevent the spread of this virus, especially now that the Florida Department of Health has identified an area of Miami where there are non-travel-related cases.

It’s important to understand that no mosquito transmission of the Zika virus has been detected at UF or in Alachua County as of this week. Several area residents, however, have contracted the virus while traveling to the countries listed by the Centers for Disease Control where there are active transmissions.

The Zika virus is spread to people mainly through the bite of an infected mosquito. As a result, UF officials have taken some precautionary measures to minimize the risk of the spread of the virus by mosquitoes.

In recent weeks, UF has worked to remove all standing water around housing complexes and other campus facilities. These efforts are ongoing, and other initiatives are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. If you see trash or other containers holding water, please throw them away or report them by calling 352-392-1121.

UF is conducting an inventory of standing water bodies, including roadside ditches and ponds, to determine the appropriate amount of larvicide to manage them going forward. By the time school begins, UF will have applied a larvicide to these locations. UF is also coordinating with the University Athletic Association regarding mitigation tactics for outdoor athletic events.

UF’s International Center is monitoring programs in and travel from affected areas. Any updates will be provided as available.

Many people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms such as fever, rash and joint pain. The best way to prevent Zika is to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to follow the CDC guidelines which include:

  • Use EPA-registered insect repellant when outdoors.
  • Treat protective clothing — boots, pants, socks — with permethrin.
  • Repair holes in screens
  • Empty containers with water such as tires, buckets, planters and toys.

Zika can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact, according to the CDC. Condoms can reduce the chance of getting Zika from sex. Zika infection during pregnancy has the potential to cause severe fetal brain defects. The CDC recommends that pregnant women not travel to an area with active Zika virus transmissions. Florida Gov. Scott has directed all county health departments to provide free testing to pregnant women. The Alachua County Health Department can be reached at 352-334-7900.

If you have traveled to the Caribbean, Central America, South America or another area with active mosquito transmissions of Zika and suspect you may have been bitten or have the virus, seek medical care at the UF Student Health Care Center or your primary care provider.

Additional information and updates about the Zika virus will be provided to the campus community as it is available. Please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, www.cdc.gov, for more information.

Published: August 8th, 2016

Category: News