Region, Nicoya

Costa Rica Declares Health Alert Due to Increase in Cases of Dengue

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On July 2, the Ministry of Health declared a health alert due to the increase that the country is experiencing in cases of dengue, which have now reached 15,000, four times more than the same period last year.

The Minister of Health, Daisy Corrales, stated that with this warning, they will reinforce health services across the country and strengthen the work of eliminating breeding grounds of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the virus.

The areas most affected by dengue so far this year are the communities of Parrita and Quepos on the Pacific coast, the province of Puntarenas, and southern Costa Rica around Perez Zeledon.

In Nicoya, in La Anexion Hospital, an average of 40 patients are being attended per day, according to Jorge Fonseca, director of the medical center.

Fonseca explained that they have performed joint actions with the Ministry of Health such as the fumigation of areas adjacent to the hospital as well as the elimination of breeding grounds around the area.

Meanwhile, Corrales explained that three serotypes of dengue are circulating in the country, which increases the chances that patients develop the hemorrhagic variety that can cause death. According to data from La Anexion Hospital, they haven’t yet had any cases of hemorrhagic dengue.

Authorities are also concerned because rainy season, from May to November, is just starting, and this is when there are usually more patients with dengue because the transmitting mosquito breeds in stagnant water.

Dengue, which causes fever, body pain and even death in its most aggressive variety, appeared in Costa Rica in 1993 and since then has caused 22 deaths, two of them this year.

Official data indicates that 26,808 cases of dengue were reported in 2012, which was almost double the 13,854 patients in 2011.

The 26,808 patients in 2012 were the fourth highest amount in the history of Costa Rica, surpassed by 37,214 cases in 2005, 28,687 in 2007 and 36,351 in 2010.

Last year, the dengue virus cost the Costa Rican state health system about $9.5 million between hospitalizations, disabilities and medical consultations.