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Costa Rica on alert for Chikungunya virus

The Aedes aegypti mosquito spreads both dengue and Chikungunya virus (Creative Commons)

The Aedes aegypti mosquito spreads both dengue and Chikungunya virus (Creative Commons)

May 23rd, 2014 ( Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health is warning that the Chikungunya virus that has sickened hundreds of people in the Caribbean could appear in Costa Rica at any time.


The Chikungunya virus causes symptoms similar to dengue and is transmitted by the same mosquito that spreads dengue, Aedes aegypti.


According to Roberto Castro Cordoba of the Bureau of Health Surveillance, Costa Rica presents all of the right conditions for the virus.


Panama yesterday reported two imported cases of the virus from travelers from Brazil and the Dominican Republic, and suspected cases have also been reported in Honduras and El Salvador.


“This is a wake-up call for countries and especially for people.  At present time, as we have no epidemic of dengue as we did last year and dengue is giving us a rest, the threat of Chikungunya appears.  The mortality from this virus is not as high [as dengue] but it should be known that it is a virus that causes many symptoms.  It is a very serious condition,” Castro said.


Castro said that one problem faced by health authorities is their inability to test samples in the laboratory – samples must be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, which is the only facility that has equipment for testing, according to Castro.


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