"After it is in your blood, it can then be transmitted sexually for up to six months," said South Walton Mosquito Control Director Ben Brewer.
The Zika virus has made its way into Walton County as the Department of Health confirms one person has been diagnosed with the virus.
DOH's Harriet Simmons said it is a travel-related case diagnosed in a non-Florida resident, not originating in but diagnosed in Walton County.
"It's a common occurrence in Florida that we have a lot of travel-related cases," said Simmons. "The Miami/Dade area is the only area in Florida where a case has originated there, and that was in 2016."
"This particular individual traveled outside the continental United States to an area known to be infected with the virus, then traveled into Walton County and tested positive," said Dr. Venita Morell, medical director at Walton County Health Department. "It then became a Walton County case. The individual was not a Walton County resident and she is no longer in Walton County."
However, South Walton Mosquito Control Director Ben Brewer acknowledges that the possibility exists that a mosquito could have bitten the individual while he or she was here, and if that mosquito then bit someone else, it could have been transmitted.
"After it is in your blood, it can then be transmitted sexually for up to six months," he said. "But the mosquito could only transmit it for two weeks."
In light of Walton becoming the 38th county in Florida to "join the Zika club," as Simmons termed it, the FDOH and South Walton Mosquito Control held a meeting with community partners Thursday afternoon on Zika preparedness.
During the event, DOH provided current Zika virus information, discussed mosquito control best practices, and public outreach strategies for communities with high risk or vulnerable populations.
"Mosquitoes can be anywhere, and in any yard," said Brewer.
Even though they can be anywhere, there are things the public can do to lessen the presence of mosquito breeding grounds.
"Keep lids on containers, anything that holds water, empty it," said Brewer.
However, he said the Tiger Mosquito, the only species that lives here that can transmit the virus, lays its eggs in the dry parts of places like bird baths and Sea-Doos, and when the bird bath fills up, then the eggs are in the fertile water.
"We will be doing outreach and getting the message out about the danger that open containers present and encourage use of repellents," said Brewer. "We're all over it."