Student Health Services warns of Zika


Will Weber

Free condoms, insect repellent towelettes and informational brochures were handed out during the “Zika 101 Update” on Sept. 8, an open-discussion presentation sponsored by Student Health Services on the Zika virus.

Doreen Perez, Director of Student Health Services at UNF, led the discussion and was joined by a panel of guests that included Marah Clark, who works with the Jacksonville mosquito control division and Haley Zachary, a local epidemiologist.

The presentation covered preventative measures students should take to avoid being bitten by an Aedes Aegypti mosquito, the transmitters of Zika, and allowed students to ask the experts questions.

The presentation also stressed the importance of protected sex – as Zika is commonly stored and transmitted through semen.

The symptoms of Zika are similar to a common cold, and Perez said the UNF clinic has been asking students with similar symptoms about their recent travels, and their partner’s recent travels, to determine the possibility of Zika infection.

“Spill and Spray” was a focus of the event. Health officials urged students to “spill” any standing water which mosquitoes could breed in, and use bug spray to deter bites.

UNF’s physical facility workers have been focusing on cleaning gutters with standing rainwater as well as emptying cups with liquid inside, as Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes can breed in liquid the size of a bottle cap.

There have been eight travel-related cases of Zika in Duval County and over 500 in the state of Florida, according to the Department of Health.

A $1.1 billion-dollar bill to combat Zika fell eight-votes short of passing in the Senate earlier this week.  

The first locally transmitted infections were discovered in July, in a neighborhood just north of downtown Miami. Officials in Miami recently discovered the first virus-carrying mosquitoes as well.

Clark said scientists have been testing mosquitoes in Jacksonville, but none have tested positive.

Students can get tested for Zika at the health clinic, but the tests must be processed at a third-party lab. The cost will vary based on insurance.

For more information about Zika, visit the Student Health Services website.