As the fall semester draws near, officials at the University of Florida are taking every necessary precaution to reduce the threat of the Zika virus.
In a coordinated campuswide effort, the Department of Environmental Health and Safety, the Department of Housing and Residence Education, the College of Planning, Design and Construction, UF’s Physical Plant division, the University Police Department, UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and the Student Health Care Center will each play a role in ensuring the safety and health of all students, faculty and staff members.
“Our main goal is keeping the campus safe and attacking mosquitoes at the larvae stage, rather than trying to eliminate those that are already here,” said William Properzio, Environmental Health and Safety director.
He added that that there have been no reports of Zika-carrying mosquitos found in Alachua County.
More than 400 building emergency coordinators have begun finding and emptying any items containing standing water. Any body of water that is too large to be emptied will be treated with solid round, larvicides known as “dunks,” which prevent mosquitos from hatching. Lake Alice and other natural water bodies on campus will not be treated in order to protect their existing habitants.
UF has created its own Zika information website at Zika.ufl.edu with numerous resources such as prevention tips from its researchers, the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.
UF, in conjunction with the state of Florida’s public universities and colleges, will participate in a joint public awareness campaign called, “Zika Aware: Spill it, Spray it,” in support of the Department of Health’s Spill the Water campaign designed to remind people to exercise precautions and empty standing water that can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitos.
The universities, colleges and Department of Health launched the campaign in response to a recent initiative from Gov. Rick Scott that Florida’s leaders in the State University System, the Florida College System and K-12 work with the state Department of Health to proactively communicate with students on Zika virus prevention and ensure that educational institutions have a plan to promptly address suspected Zika cases.
UF students, faculty and staff are encouraged to limit the amount of time they spend outside, covering up as much as possible and applying insect repellant.