While 8 Florida counties are now under a state of health emergency ordered by Gov. Rick Scott to ensure Florida is prepared and stays ahead of the spread of Zika virus, Monroe County is not included in that executive order, issued primarily as a precautionary measure.
In fact, there are no reported Zika cases in Monroe County, including the Florida Keys.
The counties under the order are Alachua, Broward, Hillsborough, Lee, Miami-Dade, Osceola, Santa Rosa and St. Johns, which have collectively reported a total of 20 cases, all acquired while travelling outside of the U.S.
The state health department has established a toll-free Zika hotline at 1-855-622-6735 to answer questions about the virus and the state’s preparedness efforts.
As well, the Monroe County Tourist Development Council continues to collaborate closely with the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County to ensure the safety of visitors and residents. Mosquito protection issues are fully addressed at http://www.fla-keys.com/mosquitoprotection .
Based on the latest guidance from the Florida Department of Health, that is updated when needed, these are the most current talking points to address concerns:
• There are no travel advisories issued either by state, federal or international health officials counseling people not to vacation in Florida including the Florida Keys.
• There are no reported cases of Zika in the Florida Keys.
• There are no reports of locally transmitted Zika anywhere in Florida. All cases were acquired while traveling in the Caribbean and South America.
• The state of emergency declared for eight Florida counties was done so to provide preparation and funding to prevent local transmission possibilities. It does not mean that visitors and residents should deviate from their normal lives.
• Traditionally in Florida, mosquitoes are most active in summer and early fall and more dormant late fall through spring.
• The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District has an aggressive mosquito suppression and abatement program. The district has the second most-funded program in Florida and has more resources and staff than programs in most major Florida counties.
• To avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, use mosquito repellents that contain 20 to 30 percent DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. DEET is not recommended for use on children younger than 2 months old. Wearing permethrin-treated long-sleeved shirts and pants, when comfortable to do so, provides additional protection. When inside, close windows and use air conditioning. Or, if windows are open, check screens to ensure there are no holes.