Health Vice Minister María Esther Anchía on Friday confirmed that a French tourist is officially the first patient to test positive for the chikungunya virus in Costa Rica.
The woman, whose identity was not disclosed, visited Costa Rica from May 10-21. She first showed symptoms on May 27 in France.
After an alert from French health agencies, Costa Rica’s Health Ministry confirmed the case as the country’s first. The tourist traveled on a one-stop flight with a stopover in Dallas, Anchía said.
“There are no records that the tourist visited another country with the reported virus before arriving in Costa Rica. But there is also a possibility that she was already incubating the virus when she entered the country,” the ministry’s director of health surveillance, María Ethel Trejos, said.
The woman traveled with her mother and visited San José, Tortuguero, La Fortuna, Monteverde and Quepos, Trejos added.
Last week, Health Ministry officials ruled out nine other suspected cases. Currently there are five more potential cases, all of people who traveled to the Dominican Republic recently.
Chikungunya is a virus transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, and it shares many of the same symptoms as dengue: high fever, headaches, muscle and joint pains, nausea and rashes. But symptoms are more aggressive than dengue and can persist for up to 10 months.
Health officials called on resident to take extreme preventive measures, including cleaning up trash and other items that collect stagnant water.