The bottom line here is this: Zika has not yet arrived in Costa Rica. That’s the good news. Now, are there bad news? Yes. Zika is now in about 19 countries, one of them is Panama, next to us.
Now, in order to understand Zika:
Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.
However, this changes radically when talking about pregnant women as it can have devastating affects to the unborn children causing microcephaly (Very small skulls and brain damage).
In November 2015, the first local transmission of Zika virus infection (Zika) was reported in Central America. Local transmission means that mosquitoes in the area have been infected with Zika virus, spreading it to people. Since then, the following Central American countries have reported ongoing transmission of Zika: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Panama.
There is no travel alert whatsoever regarding Zika in Costa Rica. However, this is the situation now. And it may change. If you are pregnant and thinking about coming to Costa Rica, please ask our travel consultants about the situation when you book your trip.
Because Zika virus is spread by mosquitoes, CDC recommends that travelers to Central America protect themselves from mosquito bites:
What type of insect repellent should I use?
FOR PROTECTION AGAINST MOSQUITOES: Products with one of the following active ingredients can also help prevent mosquito bites. Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection.
- Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin. Products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan [outside the US])
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD (Products containing OLE include Repel and Off! Botanicals)
- IR3535 (Products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart)
- Always follow product directions and reapply as directed.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
- Follow package directions when applying repellent on children. Avoid applying repellent to their hands, eyes, and mouth.
- Consider using permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear or treat them yourself.
- Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See the product information to find out how long the protection will last.
- If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
- Do not use permethrin directly on skin.
What other steps should I take to prevent bug bites?
Prevent mosquito bites.
- Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
- Stay and sleep in screened or air-conditioned rooms.
- Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.
What should I do if I am bitten by bugs?
If you are bitten by mosquitoes:
- Avoid scratching mosquito bites.
- Apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to reduce itching.
There was one case identified in COsta Rica early in the week, that caught it in Colombia
Sources of information: