Friday, February 19, 2016

Zika Virus Now In All Major Florida Tourism Counties

Map of Florida counties where Zika cases have been detected.
Map of Florida counties where Zika cases have been detected. Credit: Brevard Times


ORLANDO, Florida – According to Florida Surgeon General Dr. Armstrong’s Zika report for February 19, 2016, the first case of the Zika virus has been reported in Orange County - the Florida county that encompasses Orlando and Florida's major theme parks: Universal Studios; Walt Disney World; and Sea World.  


This means that the Zika virus has now been detected in all of Florida's major tourism counties. A public health emergency, declared by Florida Governor Rick Scott earlier this month, was extended to all counties where the Zika virus has been detected.

The three busiest cruise ports in the world are all located in Florida counties where the Zika virus has been detected: Port of Miami (Miami-Dade County); Port Everglades (Broward County); and Port Canaveral (Brevard County). When combined, thirteen million cruise passengers pass through those Florida ports annually.

On Florida's west coast, three cases of the Zika virus have been detected in Hillsborough County where Busch Gardens Tampa, another popular theme park, is located.

Some business analysts predict that the rising number of cases of the Zika virus in Florida will ultimately take its toll on the Sunshine State's tourism industry, especially in the cruise industry where many of the major cruise destinations are in Caribbean and Latin American destinations where the Zika virus is being transmitted locally.

The Zika virus is spread by bites from two mosquito species: Aedes aegypti (primarily) and Aedes albopictus, both found in Florida. Although local transmissions have not occurred in the Sunshine State, local transmissions are possible if a Zika infected visitor or returning traveler is bitten by Florida mosquitoes that then spread the virus to other people they bite.  In addition to the Zika virus, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can also transmit dengue feverChikungunya virusWest Nile virus, and Yellow Fever.

Aedes aegypti mosquito
Aedes aegypti mosquito. Credit: University of Florida Entomology & Nematology
According to the CDC, babies born with the Zika virus transmitted from their mothers who contracted the disease while pregnant have developed microcephaly - a disease which causes the babies' brains and heads to shrink. Maternal-fetal transmission of Zika virus has been documented throughout pregnancy and pregnant women can be infected with Zika virus in any trimester.

Florida Governor Rick Scott directed the State Surgeon General to activate a Zika Virus Information Hotline for current Florida residents and visitors, as well as anyone planning on traveling to Florida in the near future. The number for the Zika Virus Information Hotline is 1-855-622-6735.

Florida counties where the Zika virus has been detected:


County
Number of Cases (all travel related)
Alachua
1
Brevard
1
Broward
4
Hillsborough
3
Lee
3
Miami-Dade
10
Orange
1
Osceola
1
Santa Rosa
1
St. Johns
1
Total
26