According to figures released by the Costa Rican government, in the first 14 weeks of 2017, 151 confirmed cases of the Zika virus were reported in the country, along with 719 more suspected cases. 1048 cases of dengue fever and 128 cases of chikungunya were also reported during the same period. A nationwide campaign to reduce populations of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, a carrier of all three diseases, continues.
While remaining a significant health threat, rates of dengue fever and chikungunya have fallen considerably since 2016, when 6680 cases of dengue and 1547 cases of chikungunya were reported during the equivalent period.
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. The virus is asymptomatic in approximately 80 percent of cases; when symptoms do occur, they generally appear two to seven days after infection, and include fever, headache (behind the eyes), conjunctivitis, rashes, vomiting, and muscle and joint pain. The disease can also be transmitted via sexual intercourse.
Symptoms of dengue fever and chikungunya are similar and include: fever, headache, joint and muscle ache, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and rashes.
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 a screened-in or air conditioned room) and to eliminate possible mosquito breeding grounds (small pockets of fresh water, such as rain water that has collected in cans, bottles, tires, flower pots, clogged gutters, etc.).
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