General

  • Who can I call to spray for mosquitoes around my house?

    In Florida, many counties and cities have mosquito control services. The mosquitoes that spread Zika breed in small containers so you can also limit your risk by eliminating all sources of standing water in bird baths, flower pots, etc. on your property at least weekly.

  • What is Zika virus?

    Zika fever is a mild febrile illness caused by a mosquito-borne virus. It is transmitted by mosquito bites and through sexual contact. It has been linked to serious birth defects when contracted by pregnant women.

  • How is Zika virus transmitted?

    Zika virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, including the same mosquitoes that can transmit dengue and chikungunya. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. It is unknown how often this occurs or what stage of pregnancy is most at risk. There are no reports of infants getting Zika virus through breastfeeding. In addition, Zika virus can be present in semen and transmitted through sexual activity.

  • Who is at risk of being infected?

    Anyone who is living in or traveling to an area where Zika virus is found who has not already been infected with Zika virus is at risk for infection. The risks associated with infection for pregnant women are higher due to linkages to birth defects.

  • What are the symptoms of Zika virus infection?

    Only about 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus are symptomatic. Symptoms may include acute onset of low-grade fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (reddening of eye), body aches, headache, eye pain and vomiting. For more information, click here.

  • How soon do infected people get sick?

    People typically develop symptoms between 2 and 14 days after they are bitten by the infected mosquito. Zika fever is a mild illness with only 1 out of 5 cases known to show symptoms. Severe cases of the disease is uncommon.

  • What treatment options are available for Zika virus illness?

    There is no specific treatment for the virus. Treat the symptoms by getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids to prevent dehydration, and taking medicine to relieve fever and pain. Avoid NSAIDs in case of dengue fever. Illness typically resolves within a week. For more information, click here.

  • What should I do if I think I have Zika?

    If you feel that you might have Zika, please visit your healthcare provider. A healthcare provider will determine if you are exhibiting symptoms of Zika virus and discuss your travel history. If appropriate, based on the guidance from the CDC, the healthcare provider will order a specialized blood test or urine test. All testing must be ordered by a healthcare provider, in communication with the Department of Health and CDC.

    Travelers returning home from areas with active Zika virus transmission should avoid being bitten by mosquitoes for three weeks following travel to prevent infection of local mosquitoes. Women who were traveling in areas where Zika virus was active during their pregnancy should consult with their obstetrician.

  • What can I do to prevent the Zika virus?

    The best way to prevent Zika is to prevent mosquito bites.

    The Florida Department of Health encourages Florida residents and visitors to protect themselves from all mosquito-borne illnesses by taking the following precautions:

    DRAIN standing water. Mosquitoes can breed in as little as one teaspoon of water, so it is critical to eliminate all sources of standing water — no matter how small — to keep mosquitoes from multiplying.

    COVER skin with clothing or repellent. Wear shoes, socks, and long pants and long-sleeves. Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing. For details, click here. Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.

    COVER doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house. Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches, and patios.

  • Can Zika virus harm pets or livestock?

    There is no evidence to date that suggests that Zika virus can harm domestic pets or livestock.

  • What is the status of Zika virus in Florida?

    There are currently no areas of ongoing, active transmission of Zika locally in Florida.

  • What is being done to prevent transmission of Zika virus in Florida?

    Each suspected case of Zika virus infection is tested at the state public health laboratory. County health department staff report suspect Zika fever cases to local mosquito control staff to make sure mosquito control activities are put in place.

    State and local health departments work closely with other parties to make sure people at risk for Zika virus infections as well as health care providers stay informed with the most current science about Zika fever.

    We also provide education about effective repellents. These include products with DEET, picaridin, IR 3535 and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-methanediol products.

  • Is it safe to travel to Florida (even if I am pregnant)?

    Yes, traveling to Florida is safe. There is currently no active, ongoing transmission of Zika in Florida. The CDC recommends that pregnant women limit unnecessary travel to Miami-Dade County, which they have designated as a cautionary zone. Travelers to Florida should always take precautions to protect against mosquito bites (such as repellents) and sunburns (sunscreen, sunglasses).

  • Should I postpone my trip to Florida?

    No, there is no reason related to Zika to postpone travel to Florida.

  • Is it true that you can contract Zika virus by sexual contact?

    There is evidence to support that an infected individual can transmit the virus during vaginal, anal and oral sex. This is possible before symptoms start, while symptoms are occurring and after symptoms end. For more information about transmission and prevention, click here.

Testing

  • Do submissions to Bureau of Public Health Laboratories (BPHL) require prior approval by the Bureau of Epidemiology?

    Yes, contact the epidemiology department at your local county health department.

  • What specimen types do you accept for testing?

    a. Serum

    b. Urine

    c. Whole blood (EDTA)

    d. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)

    e. Amniotic fluid

    NOTE: Serum is the preferred diagnostic specimen. Urine, whole blood, CSF, and amniotic fluid may only be tested alongside a patient-matched serum specimen.

  • If the above specimen types or a patient-matched serum specimen are unobtainable, will BPHL still perform testing?

    If it is a high priority case (pregnant woman with fetal abnormalities, infant birth defect or poor pregnancy outcomes after the first trimester of pregnancy with history of travel during pregnancy; suspect Guillain-Barre Syndrome patient with history of travel in the two weeks prior to illness onset; or suspect local case), contact your local county health department to seek guidance.

  • How long after onset of symptoms can the specimens be collected?

    a. Less than 14 days (serum, urine, whole blood, CSF)

    b. If 14 days or more, serum only

    c. Not applicable to asymptomatic pregnant women or individuals with no travel, all appropriate specimens can be collected at any time after travel or exposure

  • What are the minimum volumes that the laboratory needs for testing?

    a. Serum: 1-2 mls

    b. Urine: 1-2 mls (max 5 mls)

    c. Whole blood (EDTA): 1-2 mls (max 5 mls)

    d. CSF: 0.5-2 mls

    e. Amniotic fluid: 1-2 mls

    f. Infants: volumes listed above, but if this is not possible a minimum of 0.5 mls

  • For serum, what kind of laboratory blood tube should be used?

    a. Serum separator tube (red/grey tiger top tube), centrifuged prior to shipment.

    b. If a serum separator tube is not available, use tubes without additives-a plain red-top tube. Centrifuge the tube and pour off the serum into a sterile tube.

  • For amniotic fluid, what kind of container should we use?

    Use a sterile leak-proof container. Please ship no more than 5 mls of fluid and ensure that the container lid is secured completely to avoid leakage. Also ship the container upright to avoid spillage. Place each container in a separate zip-seal bag.

  • Will the BPHL provide sample collection supplies?

    No, the sample provider is responsible for obtaining collection supplies.

  • Will you accept urine in specimen containers containing additives or preservatives?

    No, just use a sterile leak-proof container. Please ship no more than 5 mls of urine and ensure that the container lid is secured completely to avoid leakage. Also ship the container upright to avoid spillage. Place each container in a separate zip-seal bag.

  • Can urine alone be submitted?

    a. No, a serum sample must also be submitted.

    b. If a serum is unobtainable and the patient is a high priority case (pregnant woman with fetal abnormalities, infant birth defect or poor pregnancy outcomes after the first trimester of pregnancy with history of travel during pregnancy; suspect Guillain-Barre Syndrome patient with history of travel in the two weeks prior to illness onset; or suspect local case), contact your local county health department to seek guidance.

  • Can whole blood alone be submitted?

    a. No, a serum sample must also be submitted.

    b. If a serum is unobtainable and the patient is a high priority case (pregnant woman with fetal abnormalities, infant birth defect or poor pregnancy outcomes after the first trimester of pregnancy with history of travel during pregnancy; suspect Guillain-Barre Syndrome patient with history of travel in the two weeks prior to illness onset; or suspect local case), contact your local county health department to seek guidance.

  • Can CSF alone be submitted?

    a. No, a serum sample must also be submitted.

    b. If a serum is unobtainable and the patient is a high priority case (pregnant woman with fetal abnormalities, infant birth defect or poor pregnancy outcomes after the first trimester of pregnancy with history of travel during pregnancy; suspect Guillain-Barre Syndrome patient with history of travel in the two weeks prior to illness onset; or suspect local case), contact your local county health department to seek guidance.

  • Can amniotic fluid alone be submitted?

    a. No, a serum sample must also be submitted.

    b. If a serum is unobtainable and the patient is a high priority case (pregnant woman with fetal abnormalities, infant birth defect or poor pregnancy outcomes after the first trimester of pregnancy with history of travel during pregnancy), contact your local county health department to seek guidance.

  • How should we store specimens prior to shipment?

    4°C is best for storage

  • Where/how do we store specimens over the weekend for shipment Monday?

    Specimens can be stored at 4°C until shipment. DO NOT FREEZE specimens.

  • How should we ship specimens to the BPHL?

    Overnight, Category B

  • Will the BPHL provide Category B shipping materials?

    No, the sample provider is responsible for obtaining shipping materials

  • Where do we ship specimens?

    Unless otherwise instructed by the Bureau of Epidemiology,

    a. The following counties should ship to BPHL-Tampa

    i. Bay, Calhoun, Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, Dade, Desoto, Escambia, Glades, Gulf, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Holmes, Jackson, Lake, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Monroe, Okaloosa, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Sumter, Walton, Washington

    b. The following counties should ship to BPHL-Jacksonville

    i. Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Indian River, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Marion, Martin, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Palm Beach, Putnam, Seminole, St Johns, St Lucie, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Volusia, Wakulla

    c. The following counties can deliver by local courier to BPHL-Miami

    i. Dade, Broward

  • Will BPHL pay for the shipping costs associated with sending the specimens?

    No, the sample provider is responsible for paying for shipping costs.

  • What testing is being performed at BPHL?

    a. BPHL at Jacksonville, Miami, and Tampa can perform real-time PCR on the specimens using the Trioplex Real-Time RT-PCR Assay.

    b. BPHL at Jacksonville and Tampa can perform IgM ELISA on the samples using the Zika MAC-ELISA.

    c. BPHL-Miami will forward specimens requiring IgM ELISA to BPHL-Tampa or BPHL-Jacksonville as appropriate.

  • What is the Trioplex Real-Time RT-PCR Assay?

    a. This assay has a FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), was developed by the CDC, and detects RNA from dengue, chikungunya, and Zika viruses.

    b. BPHL fully switched to this assay from a Laboratory Developed Test (LDT) in December 2016

  • Will all acceptable specimen types also be tested for dengue and chikungunya with the Trioplex assay?

    No. Serum, whole blood, and CSF are approved specimens types for Zika, chikungunya, and dengue testing. All of these will also be tested for dengue and chikungunya. Urine and amniotic fluid will only be tested for Zika.

  • What is the Zika MAC-ELISA?

    This assay has a FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), was developed by the CDC, and detects IgM antibodies to Zika virus.

  • How are the PCR and IgM ELISA results reported?

    a. PCR – Zika virus detected; Zika virus not detected; Zika virus inconclusive. Note: a prior assay reported equivocal results, therefore older results may have equivocal results reported.

    b. ELISA –IgM Positive; IgM negative; IgM equivocal; IgM indeterminate

  • What is the turn around time for PCR testing once a sample is received at the lab?

    24-48 hours

  • What is the turn around time for IgM ELISA testing once a sample is received at the lab?

    1-5 days

  • How are the results reported?

    Results are submitted back to the submitting provider and epidemiologist at the local county health department.

  • What testing is being performed by CDC?

    a. Additional confirmatory testing of serum when warranted such as Plaque Reduction Neutralization Test (PRNT, also referred to as serum neutralization).

    b. Tissues related to a birth: placenta and fetal membranes, umbilical cord, brain and spinal cord, and solid organs (heart, lung, liver, kidneys, skeletal muscle, eyes, bone marrow)

  • Should the tissues be fixed?

    a. CDC requests formalin fixed and/or paraffin embedded tissues. Submission of frozen tissues may be considered on a case by case basis.

    b. Fixed tissues should be stored and shipped at room temperature, do not freeze.

    c. Frozen tissues should be shipped with dry ice.

  • Is pre-approval required prior to submission of any tissue specimens to CDC?

    Yes, health care providers must notify their local county health department to obtain pre-approval before they are collected and sent to BPHL. Specimens can ONLY be sent to CDC from BPHL.

    For more information on mosquito bite prevention visit:

Aerial Spraying | EPA Sourced

  • What is naled?

    Naled is an insecticide that has been registered since 1959 for use in the United States. It is used primarily for controlling adult mosquitoes, but is also used on food and feed crops, and in greenhouses.  For mosquito control, naled is applied as an ultra-low volume (ULV) spray. ULV sprayers dispense very fine aerosol droplets containing small quantities of active ingredient insecticide that drift through the air and kill mosquitoes on contact. The amount that reaches the ground is small. For mosquito control, the maximum rate for ground and aerial application is very small.

  • Does naled pose health risks to humans?

    When applied according to label instructions, naled can be used for public health mosquito control programs without posing risks to people. People aren’t likely to breathe or touch anything that has enough insecticide on it to harm them. Direct exposure to naled during or immediately after application should not occur. However, anyone who has a particular concern because of an existing health problem should talk to their doctor. Also, those who tend to be sensitive to chemicals in general, including household chemicals, could experience short-term effects such as skin, eye and nose irritation. 

  • Has EPA estimated risks to children specifically?

    EPA has estimated the exposure and risks to both adults and children posed by ULV aerial and ground applications of naled. Because of the very small amount of active ingredient released per acre of ground, exposures were below an amount that might pose a health concern. These estimates assumed several spraying events over a period of weeks and also assumed that a toddler would consume some soil and grass in addition to skin and inhalation exposure.

  • Where has naled been used for mosquito control?

    Naled is currently being applied by aerial spraying to about 16 million acres within the mainland United States as part of routine mosquito control, but it can also be used following natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods:

    • In 2004, it was used extensively to treat eight million acres across Florida as part of the emergency responses to hurricanes.
    • In 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, five million acres of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas were treated with naled to kill mosquitoes.

    Naled has been used in highly populated major metropolitan areas as well as other areas. Historically, naled has been used in Puerto Rico in attempts to control dengue. In 1987, the CDC carried out aerial spraying of naled across 177,000 acres of metropolitan San Juan.

  • Does naled work on mosquitos carrying Zika?

    Naled has been successfully used for many years in the mainland United States and would be effective in the ongoing effort to control mosquitos carrying Zika, dengue, and chikungunya in Puerto Rico and other areas where these diseases have been identified. Tests carried out in February and March 2016 by the CDC on 14 separate populations of Aedes aegypti from across Puerto Rico showed that the chemical was highly effective. In each test, 100% mortality of female Aedes aegypti was achieved. These results, combined with the success of aerial trials with naled in Florida, are compelling reasons to use aerial application of naled for the current Zika emergency situation. 

  • Are insects becoming resistant to naled?

    Resistance is not an issue at this time for naled. Despite many acres across Florida being sprayed with naled each year, no resistance issues have been detected.

  • Are there special precautions to be taken during naled spraying?

    For the majority of people, no special precautions need to be taken during spraying. You do not have to leave the area when spraying takes place. However, as a general matter it is a good idea to reduce unnecessary exposure to pesticides whenever possible.
    Some people who are especially concerned may choose to take some of these steps to help reduce exposure even more. This may include people who are sensitive to chemicals and those with pre-existing respiratory problems.

    • Stay indoors with the windows closed during spraying.
    • If you are outdoors during spraying operations and you can see the spray, avoid contact with it. If you can’t avoid contact, rinse your skin and eyes with water.
    • Wash fruits and vegetables from your garden before storing, cooking or eating.
    • Cover outside items like furniture and grills while the spraying is occurring. Bring pets and items like pet food dishes and children’s toys indoors. Rinse any items left uncovered outside before using.

    If you think you have had a reaction to the mosquito spray, talk to your doctor or call the regional Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

  • How will I know if aerial spraying is going to take place?

    Decisions about where and when to spray will be made by local officials. Listen for announcements in your community with the dates, times and locations of upcoming sprayings. They are usually announced a day or two before they are scheduled to occur.

  • Does naled pose risk to crops or water supplies?

    No. Naled is approved for use on many crops and EPA has established safe residue levels for all crops. Aerial ULV sprays dispense very fine aerosol droplets containing small quantities of active ingredient that stay aloft and kill mosquitoes on contact. The amount that reaches the ground is tiny and it dissipates very quickly.

  • Is naled harmful to wildlife including honey bees?

    Although naled does pose some risk to aquatic invertebrates (such as shrimp and water fleas) and terrestrial wildlife, it dissipates rapidly and does not persist in the environment. Therefore, risks to aquatic and terrestrial wildlife exist for only a short time, and long term exposure from its use for mosquito control is unlikely.

    Applications made between dusk and dawn, while bees are not typically foraging, can reduce exposure to honey bees. 

  • How can beekeepers reduce the risk of bee exposure to naled?

    Although we do not anticipate significant exposure to bees, beekeepers and naled applicators must work together to ensure bee health. Many mosquito control districts maintain lists of beekeepers in their region. When applications are made, these districts will notify beekeepers so they may take extra precautions if desired. Beekeepers, even with one small hive, can request to be placed on this list.

    Beekeepers can reduce exposure to bee colonies by covering colonies and preventing bees from exiting colonies during designated treatment periods, or if possible, relocating colonies to an untreated site.

    Providing clean sources of food (supplemental sugar water and protein diets) and clean drinking water to honey bee colonies during application can further reduce exposure. 

  • Is there a medical test to show whether I've been exposed to naled?

    If you are exposed to naled, it can be detected in your blood and its breakdown products can be detected in your urine, but only within a few hours after your last exposure. If exposure is known or suspected, a test can be done that measures cholinesterase levels in your blood. Low levels of cholinesterase may be a result of naled exposure or may be caused by other factors. These tests are not usually available at your doctor’s office, but your doctor can send the samples to a laboratory that can perform the tests. None of these tests, however, will predict whether you will experience any health effects.