In light of ongoing concerns about the Zika virus, Visit Tampa Bay continues to monitor the situation very closely. The health and safety of our visitors are of paramount importance, so let's take a moment to review the current information regarding the Tampa Bay area, according to the Florida Department of Health:
1. There has been no local transmission of Zika virus in Tampa Bay. As of August 19, 14 confirmed cases of Zika infection have been reported in Hillsborough County (population of 1.3 million). In all cases the virus was contracted while visiting locations in the Caribbean and South America. They did not contract it in the Tampa Bay region.
2. The Tampa Bay area has a very active mosquito control program. Hillsborough County spends $2.4 million a year on mosquito-abatement programs that call for spraying, treating standing water and trapping adult mosquitoes. An extra $450,000 was added in 2016 to address Zika specifically. Crews stay on alert all year for mosquito-borne illnesses and work diligently to limit mosquito populations.
3. Mosquito repellent is a good first line of defense. If you know you will be in an area with mosquitoes, repellents with DEET, Picaridin or eucalyptus oil will help you avoid bites. So will wearing long sleeves or clothes treated with the repellent permethrin.
4. Be alert for standing water. Flower pots, bird baths and puddles all make breeding grounds for mosquitoes. We encourage visitors to the Tampa Bay area to let their hosts know if they feel there might be a problem with standing water that needs correcting.
At the moment, Zika poses virtually no risk for visitors to Tampa Bay. Between governmental action and personal prevention efforts, the risk should remain extremely low. Nevertheless, Visit Tampa Bay gets daily updates from the Florida Department of Health regarding Zika cases in Florida and will pass pertinent information along to travelers as needed via this blog and social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter.