Palm Beach County mosquito control officials fielded a handful of phone calls on Thursday from concerned tourists wary about traveling to the region after nine cases of the mosquito-borne Zika virus were detected in four Florida counties, prompting Gov. Rick Scott to declare a health emergency.
Although no Zika cases have been reported in Palm Beach County, an official with the mosquito control division said the staff received at least six calls on Thursday from tourists who plan to travel here but had concerns about the virus, which has been linked with an epidemic of birth defects in Brazil.
At least one local hotel — Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa — said it was waiving cancellation fees as a result of the virus. Roger Amidon, the resort’s general manager and a member of the county’s Tourist Development Council, said one out-of-town guest, who is pregnant, had already canceled her trip.
Discover The Palm Beaches, the county’s official tourism marketing agency, said tourists should “feel confident” that there have been no cases of the virus in Palm Beach County.
“The Palm Beaches are a desirable tourist destination, and we remain in close contact with the State Tourism Officials as well as the Palm Beach County Department of Health, Public Affairs and Mosquito Control to stay current with any developments,” said Jorge Pesquera, Discover’s president and CEO. “We have a well-funded and effective Mosquito Control department and feel confident that the county’s preventative measures will continue to protect the public.”
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