Days after Gov. Rick Scott confirmed the first locally-transmitted case of Zika virus in Tampa Bay, Busch
Gardens has begun offering complimentary insect repellent to all visitors at the Tampa theme park.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, which owns Busch Gardens, is offering the repellent in all of its Florida parks, including SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando and Adventure Island water park in Tampa. Disney and Universal parks in Orlando are also offering repellent to guests.
"Our parks already have robust mosquito control programs in place to ensure the health and safety of our guests, team members and animals," SeaWorld told the Tampa Bay Times in an email statement. "Out of an abundance of caution ... we will offer guests complimentary EPA-approved insect repellent along with other theme parks in the area. ... We continue to stay in contact with local, state and federal health officials for the latest updates and recommendations."
Disney released a similar statement noting "an abundance of caution," though neither company mentions "Zika" specifically.
At Busch Gardens, the repellent is available at specified locations throughout the park for guests to self administer, spokeswoman Karen Varga-Sinka said.
The Zika virus is transmitted mostly by the Aedes aeqypti mosquito. Symptoms include fever, arthralgia (joint pain), rash and red, irritated eyes. Most people infected never develop symptoms, but pregnant women are at risk because of a link between Zika and microcephaly in newborns.
Florida has confirmed 43 locally transmitted cases of the virus, including the one in Pinellas County that was confirmed last week.
Nationwide, some there are 2,517 reported cases, the vast majority as a result of travel to countries where the virus is common, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.