Q COSTA RICA – In Puntarenas, a week ago, a 16 year-old girl and a 40 year-old woman gave birth to babies with microcephaly.
The Costa Rica Ministry of Health (Ministerio de Salud) classifies the cases of microcephaly as “probable”, as there is still a lack of evidence to associate this congenital malformation with the Zika virus.
However, medical records show the women had the virus at some point during pregnancy.
These births are in addition to another birth with microcephaly at the beginning of March, to a mother who had the Zika virus. That case was also in Puntarenas.
The three births this March is one more than the two in March last year.
Dr. Daniel Salas Peraza, Director of Health Surveillance, of the Ministry of Health, did not hide his concerns.
The doctor said that of the 150 pregnant women who had the Zika virus, 25% have already given birth, the other will be in the coming months.
“Both of the newborns have microcephaly as the main diagnosis, but a more thorough investigation is needed to see if there are any other associated malformations,” Salas said.
“This is very worrisome: we must protect pregnant women more intensely, but we are still finding mosquito breeding sites in large quantities and we are in the dry season. With the (coming) rains the situation will worsen,” said the doctor.
Salas added that there is additional concern because there is no action from families and communities, who are not uniting to protect pregnant women, and not just from the mosquito. “Women and their partners should have protected sex because it has been confirmed that the virus can transmit sexually,” added Salas.
The Director of Health Surveillance reiterated the call for pregnant women not to visit sites with a high incidence of Zika.
According to the epidemiological bulletin by the Ministry of Health issued Wednesday afternoon, the cantons with the highest rate are:
- Puntarenas centre
- San Mateo, and
“If you live in those areas, careful not to expose yourself to a mosquito bite. Use repellent, use mosquito nets and, above all, eliminate breeding grounds. Also, use condoms,” stressed the doctor.
According to the most recent data from the Ministry of Health, in the first nine epidemiological weeks of the year, there are 110 new confirmed cases of Zika.
In total there 575 patients throughout the country.
Zika also carries other associated risks, such as the Guillain-Barré neurological syndrome, which causes temporary body immobility in most cases.
Last year, two adults developed this syndrome.
The Aedes aegypti, in addition to transmitting the Zika virus also transmits the Dengue virus and the Chikunguña virus.
So far this year, there have been 748 cases of Dengue and 99 of Chikunguña (Chikungunya).