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Costa Rica’s rainy season brings rise in Zika cases

May 11, 2016

The number of people in Costa Rica who have contracted the mosquito-borne Zika virus reached 32 this week, the Health Ministry reported Wednesday.

More than half of the cases are in the popular Pacific beach town of Jacó, in Puntarenas province. The Health Ministry has registered 19 cases of people in Jacó who are thought to have contracted the Zika virus locally. Eight of those cases were recorded in the last week.

Among the infected are two pregnant women. The youngest patient is a 3-year-old boy from Alajuelita, a canton south of the capital, San José.

The beginning of the rainy season brings a proliferation of stagnant water that serves as breeding grounds for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the main carrier of Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and chikungunya.

In late February, health officials declared a state of emergency in 31 cantons following confirmation of the first two locally-transmitted cases of Zika, as well as a spike in cases of dengue and chikungunya. Garabito canton, where Jacó is located, is already included in that list.

The other confirmed cases were in Guanacaste province: eight of them in Nicoya and one in Carrillo. The four remaining cases are from Alajuelita.

There are also six confirmed cases of people who contracted Zika abroad: two who likely got the virus in Colombia, two in Honduras, one in Nicaragua one in the Dominican Republic.

Preventive actions

The Public Health Ministry is boosting efforts to prevent and mitigate the proliferation of mosquito-borne diseases. To date this year, health officials have inspected and fumigated just over 283,000 homes across the country, the health surveillance department reported.

During those inspections, officials found and eradicated more than 10,700 mosquito-breeding sites containing eggs or larvae. They also removed or treated 1.1 million potential breeding spots.

Health Minister Fernando Llorca urged the population to help by getting rid of all objects that can collect stagnant water.

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