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French tourist becomes first person to contract Chikungunya in Costa Rica

The Aedes aegypti mosquito spreads both dengue and Chikungunya virus.  Note the white stripes on its legs. (Creative Commons)

The Aedes aegypti mosquito spreads both dengue and Chikungunya virus. Note the white stripes on its legs. (Creative Commons)

July 7th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) A French tourist has become the first confirmed case of a person contracting the Chikungunya virus in Costa Rica, the Ministry of Health said on Friday.  While there are at least four other confirmed cases of the virus in the country, the others are believed to have been contracted in the Dominican Republic.

 

The French woman visited Costa Rica between May 10th and May 21st with her mother.  The pair visited San José, Tortuguero, La Fortuna, Monteverde and Quepos.  Six days after returning to France, the woman developed symptoms of the disease.

 

The incubation period of the Chikungunya ranges from one to twelve days.

 

Costa Rica’s Health Ministry issued an alert over the possibility of the virus being present in the country just days of the woman returned to France.

 

The National Virology Laboratory in France alerted Costa Rica’s national health authorities after the woman tested positive for the virus.

 

Mary Ethel Trejos, Director of Health Surveillance for Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health, said the woman had not traveled to any other country in the region, or any other country where there is risk of contracting Chikungunya.  As a result, it is almost certain the woman contracted the virus in Costa Rica.

 

Health officials say the highest risk areas for contracting the virus is the Central Pacific region (most of Puntarenas province) and Limon.

 

The woman is now the first person confirmed to have contracted the virus in Costa Rica.  While there are four other suspected cases of the virus, all are believed to have contracted the virus in the Dominican Republic prior to arriving in Costa Rica.

 

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.

 

“We are preparing to address an epidemic, but we are working for that not to occur,” said Maria Eugenia Bonilla Villalta, medical director for Costa Rica’s national healthcare system, CCSS.

 

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