106 Diagnosed with Incurable Disease in Costa Rica

It’s official: health workers in Costa Rica recently confirmed 106 cases of chikungunya, an incurable mosquito-borne virus, as reported by the Tico Times. According to Costa Rica’s Health Vice Minister María Esther Anchía, the mosquitoes carrying the virus have been found throughout the country, which is making it difficult to control transmission.

This news comes less than three weeks after health officials declared chikungunya was effectively controlled in Chomes. Despite this one victory, health workers are faced with new hotspots cropping up throughout Costa Rica. Because transmission can occur both indoors and outdoors, inhibiting transmission of the virus has proven difficult for officials.

As covered by the Inquisitr, Costa Rica was recently named the happiest country in the world according to a survey of more than 40,000 students. Regardless of its white sand beaches and lush jungles, Costa Rica is also known as a hub of exotic animals and insects — some of which can be deadly.

While chikungunya isn’t usually life threatening, it can cause life-long impairment as it leads to severe joint pain and, in some cases, rheumatoid arthritis. The virus is transmitted through a bite from an infected mosquito and, though almost never deadly, does not have a cure. Other symptoms associated with chikungunya infection include fever, nausea, and rash.

The virus’s delayed onset of up to 12 days has delayed access to treatment for many in Costa Rica and neighboring countries. According to the World Health Organization, the mosquitoes that carry chikungunya are present in more than 40 countries, but are most prevalent in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean Islands.

Though experts in Costa Rica have been actively educating the public about the disease, chikungunya is best controlled by preventing mosquito bites. Unfortunately, Costa Rica’s tropical climate creates an environment ripe for mosquito reproduction, particularly in areas with stagnant pools of water.

Reported by the New York Times, efforts to monitor the mosquitoes that transmit chikungunya are well underway. The two species of mosquito, A. aegypti and A. albopictus, responsible for viral transmission, have been found to travel mainly on vehicles, which led some countries to proactively spray vehicles with pesticide.

In Costa Rica, no such procedures have been established — yet. Though the Centers for Disease Control periodically monitor general risk levels of chikungunya in Central America, Costa Rican residents must be diligent in their efforts to prevent being bitten.

According to natives of Costa Rica, effective strategies include wearing protective clothing, using insect repellent containing DEET, and avoiding travel during dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.