Update on the Zika Virus in Costa Rica – October 19th, 2016

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This post is proposed to help travelers to learn about the condition of the Zika Virus in Costa Rica, learn about the risks and to give notice on the protections to evade Zika.

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The interest surrounding Zika has been focused on the suspected link connecting the virus and a critical birth defect known as microcephaly.

Understanding How Zika Virus Can Affect Your Trip

Zika virus

A key way for travelers to manage their risk concerning Zika is in understanding that the virus is primarily transmitted to people via mosquito bites, which is why the following information is important:

The CDC offers a wealth of information on Zika as well as prevention at this link.

The CDC also reports instances of Zika being transmitted sexually and provides information on sexual transmission and prevention at this link.

Favorably, CDC also reports, “Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for only a few days to a week. The virus will not cause infections in an infant that is conceived after the virus is cleared from the blood. There is currently no evidence that Zika virus infection poses a risk of birth defects in future pregnancies.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_empty_space][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Update on the number of cases per region” main_heading_color=”#f48a00″ main_heading_font_size=”desktop:20px;”][/ultimate_heading][vc_empty_space][vc_progress_bar values=”%5B%7B%22label%22%3A%22Central%20Pacific%22%2C%22value%22%3A%22640%22%2C%22color%22%3A%22bar_blue%22%7D%2C%7B%22label%22%3A%22Guanacaste%20Province%22%2C%22value%22%3A%22246%22%2C%22color%22%3A%22bar_turquoise%22%7D%2C%7B%22label%22%3A%22Central%20Valley%22%2C%22value%22%3A%22181%22%2C%22color%22%3A%22peacoc%22%7D%2C%7B%22label%22%3A%22Caribbean%20Coast%22%2C%22value%22%3A%22141%22%7D%2C%7B%22label%22%3A%22Other%20areas%20in%20the%20country%22%2C%22value%22%3A%2246%22%2C%22color%22%3A%22sky%22%7D%2C%7B%22label%22%3A%22Marketing%22%2C%22value%22%3A%2270%22%7D%5D” options=”striped,animated” caption_pos=”thin_top” units=”cases”][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]Data from Social Security Ministry of Costa Rica [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]For most travelers, the CDC reports that “About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika will get sick. For people who get sick, the illness is usually mild. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected…The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon…

For pregnant women the situation is different, “Until more is known, CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant,” which one can read at this link.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

What is Costa Rica doing about Zika?

Costa Rica has developed a strong campaign to eliminate the possible mosquito sources, and up until October 16th, 2016, there were 2,306,309 possible mosquito breeding areas. Out of these: 777,135 were completely eliminated, and 1,529,174 were treated.

(Treated mosquito breeding areas means, for instance, aquatic plants, ponds, fountains, and similar breeding spots that cannot be eliminated totally but are cleaned) 

Visiting a total of 547,449 houses, the spraying of mosquitoes is a continuous government and community efforts that complement a sound media campaign to get rid of any possible breeding areas.

Education Programs

On the other hand, in Costa Rica, everything is done through the schools. And this is not the exception. The Zika Virus situation is discussed and supported by the Costa Rican elementary schools and children usually end up teaching their parents about getting rid of the mosquitos hatcheries. 

Find here (In Spanish) some of the documents given to the children and put in all public areas in the communities in risk:

What is zika? (M.S.) 132.48 KB
Personal Guide to eliminate the mosquitoes hatcheries (MS-MEP) 472.91 KB
How Zika Virus affects pregnant women and new born babies (M.S.) 141.73 KB
Zika Virus Symptoms  – (M.S.) 128.82 KB
Recommendations for traveling pregnant women (M.S.) 132.67 KB
Disposition of the residuals – Recycle and Reuse (M.S.) 283.98 KB
Eliminate all things that store water (M.S.) 270.23 KB
Old Tires have to be recycled (M.S.) 314.07 KB

These might be the reasons why in comparison to several countries in Latin America cases are very few, and Zika Virus is under control. 

Who is the population at risk?

1) Pregnant Women

If you are pregnant yes. Consider postponing your trip to Zika-affected or countries at risk (Costa Rica and the others).Through 2015, pediatric neurologists in Brazil started to see that some pregnant women infected with Zika gave birth to babies with an awful birth defect called microcephaly, which is described by a contracted head and incomplete brain development.

As Zika reached Brazil in the April of 2015, more than 4,000 cases of microcephaly have been stated in newborns born to mothers with Zika virus.

Scientists are still researching how many of these birth congenital disorders were really caused by the virus, and if the link is real (i.e., whether it’s Zika and not an interaction with other environmental factors causing the harm to fetuses).

In the meantime, as a precaution measure, the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention is recommending pregnant women to avoid areas with the virus. You can see this list for countries that presently have Zika travel advisories and expect that the CDC will keep adding more to the list as the virus extends. And if you do cancel because of Zika, your airline may be posting a refund or credit, so make sure to ask about that.

2) Women trying to get pregnant

Please be careful. The CDC recommends consulting your doctor before traveling and following steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.

3) Women who want to get pregnant

No need to worry. Zika virus does not seem to risk of birth defects for future pregnancies. As best researchers can tell,the virus clears itself from the body pretty quickly, remaining in the blood for only about a week after infection.

4) Men with a partner who is trying to become pregnant

It’s likely that a man who travels to an infected region and gets bitten by a mosquito carrying Zika could later conduct the virus through sexual intercourse. There have been two studies in the medical literature that suggest this is a risk.

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