Recently it was known through the Ministry of Health of Costa Rica an increase of 160% in cases of Dengue infections in the nation, during the current rainy season. Costa Rica is not the only country in Central America affected by this disease; Honduras is the most affected with almost 40,000 registered cases. Other affected countries are Guatemala and El Salvador.
Rodrigo Marín, director of Health Surveillance of the Ministry of Costa Rica commented “We are seeing an increase in Dengue cases with relation to the same period of 2018. 2,639 cases have been reported this year, almost 1,300 cases more than last year”.
That is why, in terms of prevention, the Costa Rican Ministry of Health has carried out fumigations in more than 110,000 cases, to eradicate the breeding grounds of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the Dengue transmitter (vector), in addition to carrying other types of viruses like Chikungunya and Zika.
What exactly is Dengue?
Dengue is a virus infection that causes high fever, headaches, joint and muscle aches, vomiting and rashes. It is spread through the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Dengue is not transmitted directly from person to person. Dengue is common in hot and humid areas of the world and outbreaks usually occur in the rainy season. Dengue is rare in the United States.
In some cases, Dengue manifests a hemorrhagic fever, which causes bleeding in the nose, gums or under the skin, this variant of the disease can also evolve into massive bleeding and shock. These forms of Dengue are life-threatening and special medical care is required with hospitalization.
If you are diagnosed with dengue, drink plenty of fluids, rest and take fever control medications BUT NOT aspirin. It is best to visit your doctor if you begin feeling any of the symptoms related to being indicated the best treatment.
How is Dengue prevented?
The mosquito that transmits dengue breeds in stagnant water, so it is advisable not to have opened water containers so as not to have potential breeding grounds for the mosquito at homes.
It is advisable to use certified (EPA) insect repellents (like Permethrin) and follow the instructions dictated by the product. You should also wear clothes that cover your arms, legs, and feet. Be aware that mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing. Treat clothes with Permethrin or other adequate insecticides for additional protection. In addition to closing doors and windows that do not have protective screens.
Recommendations in case of traveling to Costa Rica during the rainy season.
Select a hotel with accommodations that have air conditioning or wire mesh on the doors and windows. Sleep under a mosquito net if the area where you sleep is outdoors or if the doors and windows do not have wire mesh. Mosquitoes can live indoors and bite at any time of day or night. Buy a mosquito net for tents before traveling abroad if you plan to camp out. Select a mosquito net recommended by the World Health Organization identified as WHOPES (WHO Pesticides Evaluation Scheme): compact, white, rectangular, with 156 holes per square inch and long enough to fit under the mattress.
Permethrin treated bed nets provide more protection than untreated bed nets. Permethrin is an insecticide that kills mosquitoes and other insects. – Do not wash mosquito nets or expose them to sunlight. This will inactivate the insecticide faster.
Traveling with children.
If you are going to make a trip to Costa Rica with children, we recommend that you also follow the instructions of the insect repellent product suited for children. Please do not use insect repellent on babies younger than two months.
The repellent should be applied first to your hands and then applied to the child, remember not to apply it directly to the child’s hands, eyes, mouth or irritated or cut skin. Do not use products that contain lemon Eucalyptus oil (OLE) or Paracetane Diol (PMD) in children under 3 years. As for clothing that the baby or toddler should wear it should cover both arms and legs. In the same way, you must cover the crib and/or baby carrier with a mosquito net.
If you take all these preventive measures we are sure you will enjoy a trip to Costa Rica without mishaps and you can indulge in all the natural wonders that this beautiful country has to offer.