Zika Virus Information

Zika Virus Q&A

What is Zika?

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.

How do people get infected with Zika?

Zika is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species. A pregnant woman can pass Zika to her fetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth. Also, a man with Zika can pass it to 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.

What are the symptoms of Zika virus disease?

The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease 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.

How is Zika diagnosed?

To diagnose Zika, your doctor will ask you about recent travel and symptoms you may have, and collect blood or urine to test for Zika or similar viruses.

What health problems can result from getting Zika?

Many people infected with Zika will have no symptoms or mild symptoms that last several days to a week. However, Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), an uncommon sickness of the nervous system, is also very likely triggered by Zika in a small number of cases.

Once someone has been infected with Zika, it’s very likely they’ll be protected from future infections. There is no evidence that past Zika infection poses an increased risk of birth defects in future pregnancies.

If I am traveling to an area with Zika, should I be concerned?

Travelers who go to places with Zika can be infected, and the CDC has issued travel notices for people traveling to those areas. Many people will have mild or no symptoms. However, Zika can cause microcephaly and other severe birth defects. For this reason, pregnant women should not travel to any area with Zika, and women trying to get pregnant should talk to their doctors before traveling or before their male partners travel. Those traveling to areas with Zika should take steps during and after they travel to prevent mosquito bites and sexual transmission of Zika.

What can people do to prevent Zika?

There is currently no vaccine for preventing Zika. The best way to prevent Zika is to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites:

The sources for the information in this document are the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To learn more, visit their websites at http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/zika-virus/ and http://www.cdc.gov/zika/ or contact your local Florida county health department.


Talking Points

VISIT FLORIDA official talking points

  • The health and safety of our visitors is the highest priority for VISIT FLORIDA and the Florida tourism industry.
  • We have complete confidence in the Zika response efforts of state and local authorities and we continue to work with our industry partners to ensure that visitors have the information they need to make travel planning decisions.
  • As of March 24, 2017, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) reports that there have been 2 locally acquired infections of Zika in 2017.  DOH has stated that Florida no longer has any identified areas with active Zika transmission since one case does not mean ongoing active transmission is taking place.  However, they say we will continue to see isolated cases of local transmission, so it is important for residents and visitors in Miami-Dade County to remain vigilant about mosquito protection.  As Florida Governor Rick Scott has stated, "We must all remain fully committed to doing our part to keep Florida clear of active Zika transmission by continuing to dump standing water and wear bug spray."
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has offered guidance for pregnant women and their partners considering travel to Miami-Dade county.  To speak directly with someone from the Florida Department of Health, please call the Florida Zika Virus Information Hotline at 855-622-6735.
  • As the situation continues to evolve, we recommend that visitors consult official sources. Current travel safety information can be found at VISITFLORIDA.com.
  • Florida's tourism industry is made up of many unique locales and attractions that are experienced by more than 100 million visitors from 190 countries every year. VISIT FLORIDA will continue to develop marketing programs that appeal to a wide variety of interests.
  • Should you receive inquiries regarding the state's position on Zika and tourism, please contact Kathy Torian at ktorian@visitflorida.org.

For front-line employees with responding to visitor inquiries

  • We have complete confidence in the Zika response efforts of state and local authorities.
  • As of March 24, 2017, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) reports that there have been 2 locally acquired infections of Zika in 2017.  DOH has stated that Florida no longer has any identified areas with active Zika transmission since one case does not mean ongoing active transmission is taking place.  However, they say we will continue to see isolated cases of local transmission, so it is important for residents and visitors in Miami-Dade County to remain vigilant about mosquito protection.  As Florida Governor Rick Scott has stated, "We must all remain fully committed to doing our part to keep Florida clear of active Zika transmission by continuing to dump standing water and wear bug spray."
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has offered guidance for pregnant women and their partners considering travel to Miami-Dade county.  To speak directly with someone from the Florida Department of Health, please call the Florida Zika Virus Information Hotline at 855-622-6735.
  • As the situation continues to evolve, we recommend that visitors consult the official source at FloridaHealth.gov.

For Welcome Centers and Certified Tourism Information Centers

  • The health and safety of our visitors is the highest priority for VISIT FLORIDA and the Florida tourism industry.
  • We have complete confidence in the Zika response efforts of state and local authorities.
  • As of March 24, 2017, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) reports that there have been 2 locally acquired infections of Zika in 2017.  DOH has stated that Florida no longer has any identified areas with active Zika transmission since one case does not mean ongoing active transmission is taking place.  However, they say we will continue to see isolated cases of local transmission, so it is important for residents and visitors in Miami-Dade County to remain vigilant about mosquito protection.  As Florida Governor Rick Scott has stated, "We must all remain fully committed to doing our part to keep Florida clear of active Zika transmission by continuing to dump standing water and wear bug spray."
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has offered guidance for pregnant women and their partners considering travel to Miami-Dade county.  To speak directly with someone from the Florida Department of Health, please call the Florida Zika Virus Information Hotline at 855-622-6735.
  • As the situation continues to evolve, we recommend that visitors consult the official source at FloridaHealth.gov.

Zika Response Quotes

According to Florida Governor Rick Scott, "Florida has a proven track record of success when it comes to managing similar mosquito-borne viruses. We will continue to keep our residents and visitors safe utilizing constant surveillance and aggressive strategies, such as increased mosquito spraying, that have allowed our state to fight similar viruses."

According to Florida Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip, "As with most emerging health threats, we learn more about the Zika virus each day but we recognize that the unknown can be scary, especially for pregnant women. We're committed to sharing as much as we can as soon as we can."

According to Roger Dow, President and CEO of U.S. Travel Association, "The U.S. travel community remains in close contact with state and federal public health experts, and is committed to disseminating and adhering to their most current counsel with regard to Zika. As of this moment, the experts' counsel that Zika is a concern for women who are pregnant or hope to become pregnant, and that those specific individuals should avoid a one-square-mile area in north Miami and a 20-block area of Miami Beach. We are confident that authorities are doing all they can to prevent the need to expand that advisory. Our understanding is that not-at-risk parties—i.e., the vast majority of the populace—should feel free to go about their business, as Greater Miami, the beaches and the state of Florida are open for business. Meanwhile, we renew our call for Congress to finally reach agreement on a Zika research and prevention funding package, so that the global public can see that the matter is being proactively addressed and the situation does not devolve into needless alarm."


Last updated: 03/24/2017