There is a risk of contracting various mosquito-borne diseases in Costa Rica, including dengue fever, the Zika virus, and chikungunya. According to health officials, at least 351 cases of Zika virus were reported between January 1 and early September - a significant decrease from the 1981 cases reported during the same period in 2017. In addition, 106 cases of chikungunya were reported in the eight months of the year, down from 396 during the same period of 2017. Finally, 671 suspected dengue cases were reported nationwide over the same period, down from 4240 cases reported in the first eight months of 2017.
Symptoms of chikungunya include high fever, joint and muscle pain, rash, headache, nausea, and fatigue. The virus is rarely fatal but lingering joint pain can last for several weeks, even months, after the initial recovery. No treatment or vaccine for the virus is currently available.
Symptoms of dengue fever include fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, nausea, and rashes. Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) is a potentially deadly complication that is characterized by high fever, the enlargement of the liver, and hemorrhaging. Symptoms of chikungunya are similar; the virus is infrequently fatal but potentially debilitating joint pain can last for weeks, even months, after the initial recovery.
Symptoms of Zika - fever, headache (behind the eyes), conjunctivitis, rash, vomiting, and muscle and joint pain - can appear two to seven days following contraction of the disease, although the virus is asymptomatic in approximately 80 percent of cases. Transmission of the virus is also possible via sexual intercourse. Although the Zika virus is usually relatively benign, links between it and severe birth defects, as well as the potentially fatal neurological disorder Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), have been established.
Individuals present in Costa Rica - in particular, pregnant women and their partners - are advised to take measures to protect themselves from mosquito bites (e.g. by wearing covering clothing, using insect repellent, and sleeping in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms) and to eliminate possible mosquito breeding grounds (e.g. small pockets of fresh water, such as rainwater that has collected in cans, bottles, tires, flower pots, clogged gutters, etc.).
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