Zika Virus

Zika risk reduction



August 24, 2016

Dear USF Students:

As we begin a new academic year, the University of South Florida continues to monitor the spread of the Zika virus, working closely with the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) in Tallahassee as well as with local health department officials.

To date, no transmission of Zika virus by local mosquitoes has been detected on any USF campus. On Tuesday, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced the first non-travel related case of Zika in Pinellas County. No locally transmitted cases have been confirmed in Hillsborough, Manatee or Sarasota counties. In all four of these counties, there are residents who contracted the virus during their travels to foreign countries or territories with active Zika transmissions.

The Zika virus is spread primarily through bites from Zika-infected mosquitoes. As a result, USF is committed to taking precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the Zika virus on its campuses.

Over the past few weeks, USF has surveyed housing complexes and other campus facilities for standing water and staff members are working to eliminate these potential mosquito-breeding sites. These efforts will continue, and other initiatives in conjunction with the FDOH could be implemented in the coming weeks.

Universities and colleges in Florida, including USF, are participating in a public awareness campaign called, "Zika Aware: Spill it, Spray it." The campaign is designed to remind people to empty standing water which can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitos, remember to use mosquito repellent and exercise other precautions.

Many people infected with Zika virus experience no symptoms, but those who do most commonly experience fever, rash, conjunctivitis (pink eye), or joint pain. People returning from countries and territories where the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has posted travel alerts should contact their doctor if any two such symptoms develop within two weeks of returning from these areas.

Currently the best prevention for Zika virus is to take precautions against mosquito bites. USF students are strongly encouraged to follow CDC guidelines to reduce exposure to mosquito bites.

Zika can also be transmitted through sexual activity from a person with Zika to his or her partners – even if the infected person does not have symptoms at the time. The latest CDC recommendations for preventing the spread of Zika virus through sex can be found on the CDC's website.

Due to the association of Zika infection with potential development of microcephaly and other severe neurologic birth defects in newborns, the CDC recommends that pregnant women postpone travel to areas with Zika virus transmission. I encourage women who are trying to become pregnant to also consider postponing travel to areas with Zika transmission. If delaying travel is not possible, then it's advised to consult with a doctor.

If an individual is pregnant and visits an area with Zika transmission, it's strongly recommended they follow up with an OB/GYN upon return, whether symptoms of the infection have occurred or not.

Couples planning to become pregnant should consult with their physician or health care provider:

This information is provided as guidance for an evolving public health threat. We will continue to post updates on our website. Students are also encouraged to follow the latest recommendations from the CDC, as they develop.

Student Health Services is a campus resource aimed at supporting student success by providing high quality health care and education. For more information on our services in Tampa, explore this website or contact us at (813) 974-2331.

For Student Health Services at USF St. Petersburg, visit USFSP Wellness Center or contact us at (727) 873-4422.
At USF Sarasota-Manatee, students can visit or contact the Counseling and Wellness Center on the New College Campus at (941) 487-4254.


Joseph A. Puccio, MD, FAAP
USF Morsani College of Medicine
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Executive and Medical Director,
USF Student Health Services


For more information from USF in regards to Zika: click here.

For more information about the Zika virus in Hillsborough County, click here.
For more information on Mosquito Bite Prevention for Travelers, click here.