Costa Rican health officials on Tuesday said that so far this year 6,898 cases of dengue have been reported – a 300 percent jump from the same period in 2012.
Eugenia Villalta, medical director at the Social Security System, or Caja, reported the figures in a press conference and explained that most cases are being registered in the provinces of Guanacaste and Puntarenas, both on the Pacific coast.
Villalta said 19 cases of potentially fatal dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) have been registered.
“Communities are dropping their guard against the aedes aegypti mosquito, which acts as a virus carrier. It is a truly alarming situation,” Villalta said.
The current behavior of the disease is unusual since dengue cases tend to decrease during Costa Rica’s dry season (December to April). Caja officials now fear a big spike in cases during the upcoming rainy season (May to November).
Caja officials will embark on a campaign in coming weeks to collect and destroy old tires, bottles and other objects where water collects and which provide breeding places for the mosquito.
Dengue, which causes fever, body aches and even death in DHF cases, appeared in Costa Rica in 1993 and has caused 22 deaths, including one this year.
Last year, Caja recorded a total of 26,808 cases that nearly doubled the 13,854 reported in 2011, which cost that agency some $9.5 million.