Congenital Infection Center

Zika Referral Center 

What is Zika?

Zika is a disease caused by a virus that is mainly spread to humans though infected mosquitoes of the Aedes species which can bite day and night. The most worrisome risk of the virus is that it can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus causing serious birth defects and developmental delays including severe microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads indicating potential brain damage. The virus may also be spread during sex. Infected people may experience fever, joint pain, red eyes and rash but most people (80%) will have mild or no symptoms. The virus has been linked to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that can cause paralysis.

Where is Zika and how do we prevent it?

The spread of Zika is still active in countries around the word. Cases continue to be reported in travelers returning to the United States after visiting or living in areas with risk of Zika.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that pregnant women do not travel to any areas where Zika is being transmitted. Couples interested in or planning pregnancy are advised to follow the CDC's travel recommendations when visiting areas with risk of Zika.  Because the virus can remain in the body, even when symptoms are not present, all pregnant women with partners who have lived in or traveled to an area with risk of Zika should use condoms correctly or refrain from sex during pregnancy.  No local mosquito-borne transmission has been reported in the continental United States since 2017.  However, people must be aware that both the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes could survive in the temperate climate of Southern states.

Accordingly, the CDC continues to recommend that people take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites.  No vaccine exists to prevent Zika. The best way to protect against Zika is to prevent mosquito bites by wearing EPA-registered bug spray, covering exposed skin and controlling mosquitoes at home by repairing screens, closing windows, using air conditioning and emptying standing water where mosquitoes lay eggs.

How can the Zika Referral Center help?

USF Health created the Zika Referral Center to give those exposed to Zika and licensed medical professionals access to information and consultation services from experts in obstetrics, perinatology, pediatrics, neurology, ophthalmology and infectious disease. 

When a pregnant woman tests positive for Zika, careful screening through ultrasounds and tests is essential to understand how the virus is affecting the baby. Because the virus can lead to an array of abnormalities including brain damage, hearing loss, vision problems, seizures, feeding problems and developmental delays, monitoring must continue through infancy. A wide network of specialists is required to effectively care for families impacted by Zika.   

Beginning with a dedicated case manager, each patient will receive individualized referrals and consultation from the Center’s Zika Response Team prepared to guide and care for them.The Zika Response Team is also committed to providing healthcare consultation services to other local providers treating patients at risk for Zika.


For consultation and referral please contact: USF Health Zika Referral Center

Phone: 813-259-8800
                                                                            Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM                                         

After Hours, Providers Only: Please contact USF Health answering service.