Health officials are analyzing blood samples from a 17-year-old man and 30-year-old woman who could become the first two cases of Costa Ricans to test positive for the chikungunya virus.
Health Ministry Director of Health Surveillance María Ethel Trejos on Friday evening said both patients – who are from Alajuela and Limón – have symptoms of the disease. Neither had traveled out of the country.
“They are being monitored, but both are out of danger,” Trejos said.
Currently 11 other patients have chikungunya symptoms. Their blood samples will be sent on Monday to the National Center for Virology at the Costa Rican Institute of Research and Education in Nutrition and Health.
The 13 possible cases were detected in the past 30 days. Two are people who recently traveled to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, two countries with the highest number of infected patients in the Americas.
Four others are considered a high probability of having contracted the virus because they traveled to countries with an active spread of chikungunya, Trejos said.
Earlier this month, Health Ministry officials confirmed the first case of the virus related to Costa Rica after French health officials said a tourist from that country who spent 10 days here showed symptoms following her return home.
The woman traveled with her mother and visited San José, Tortuguero, La Fortuna, Monteverde and Quepos.
Health Minister María Elena López Núñez called on the population to help stop an outbreak by cleaning up trash and other items that collect stagnant water.
The virus is transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, and it shares many of the same symptoms as dengue: high fever, headaches, muscle and joint pain, nausea and rashes. But symptoms are more aggressive than dengue and can persist for up to 10 months.
Chikungunya strikes only once – patients become immune from future infection – but it can leave people with rheumatoid arthritis as a consequence.