December 15, 2015

Zika in Costa Rica: What You Need To Know

Zika. Is Zika in Costa Rica? Chances are you’ve heard this word A LOT in the past two week.

I first read this word in a worried email from Dad, warning me of a new mosquito born disease, out breaking in South and Central America.
This was definitely news to me.
No one here in Dominical, Costa Rica had mentioned Zika in Costa Rica. There was no panic when I asked others about it. People hadn’t heard this word before, let alone knew it was a disease “sweeping through Central America.”

After a quick search on the net, my page was flooded with headlines like:

“Zika Virus: World Health Organization declares global emergency”
“The Next Ebola”
“Zika Virus – Dystopian Climate Future”

No wonder people were worried. So to put my mind, my dads mind and maybe your mind at ease I’ve done my own research in an attempt to separate the facts from the media madness.

Zika: The Facts

  • Zika is a tropical infection new to the Western Hemisphere. It is a mosquito transmitted infection related to Dengue, Yellow Fever and West Nile Virus.
  • Since 1947, Zika has been commonly found in Asia and Africa. It did not spread widely in the Western Hemisphere until May 2015, when an outbreak occurred in Brazil.
  • Not all mosquitos are carriers of the Zika Virus. Aesdes Aegypti is the only mosquito capable of carrying this virus. This mosquito is only active during the daytime.

Zika in Costa Rica: Costa Rica taking action against Zika
To date of writing this article, there has been only one reported case of infection. Costa Rica has started taking cautionary measures against an outbreak.

The Ministry of Health plan to use a non toxic and natural bacterium which is effective in killing mosquito larvae. This bacterium (in tablet form) will be placed in any still standing water (homes to mosquito reproduction) and one application is effective upwards of 10 weeks.

Symptoms of Zika
The symptoms of Zika are very mild and are generally less acute then the common winter flu. Also, the odds of contracting Zika is actually less than the common flu, only one in five will develop symptoms. The need for hospitalization is rare and to date there have been NO fatalities. 
Symptoms include:
Mild headaches, fever, rash, joint pains and conjunctivitis.

Treatment for infection is rest, lots of fluids, paracetamol and a healthy diet.

With rare exceptions, the virus does not appear to linger in the body. A New York Times article states, “People who become infected are likely to experience symptoms for 1-2 weeks. Once recovered, people are now immune to this virus”.

Pregnancy and Zika

Scientists in Brazil and the global community suspect a link between the rise in a birth defect called Microcephaly and the Zika Virus. Microcephaly affects the development of the head and brain in newborns. The list of causes for Microcephaly is long and varied and not necessarily derived from Zika.

There is still a lot of unanswered questions about this outbreak and the link between Microcephaly and Zika is one of them.

Women who are pregnant are advised to not travel to counties where Zika is circulating. If you become pregnant after visiting such countries, the chances of birth defects are very low.

Your Costa Rica travel plans and Zika
If you’re healthy, not pregnant and do not plan to conceive in Costa Rica, there is no need to cancel or change your trip. Life here in Costa Rica has not been effected by this virus. There is no panic, everyone is still very healthy, happy and Pura Vida.

I hope this article puts your mind and your loved ones at ease about visiting beautiful Costa Rica

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