QCOSTARICA – Seven confirmed cases and 180 suspected is the tally of the Chikungunya virus in Guanacaste and Puntarenas provinces, threatening tourism during the high tourist season.

In Costa de Pajaros, Puntarenas, an outbreak of Chikingunya has affected many area fishermen and their families.
In Costa de Pajaros, Puntarenas, an outbreak of Chikingunya has affected many area fishermen and their families.

The Ministry of Health (Ministerio de Salud) and the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social – CCSS) announced a crackdown to prevent an epidemic. The measures include the fumigation of potential breeding areas of mosquitos carrying the virus, and additional training of personnel.

In addition, during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, 104 officials will be working  through the holidays with focus on the Central Pacific and the Guanacaste region, at the ready to deal with any outbreaks.

The Director General of Health, Priscilla Herrera, warned earlier this week the possibility of cancelling festivals,  depending on the number of patients in the coming days.

Herrera says mass events could be a major source of spreading the virus. For now, the Festival de la Luz in San José, the largest of the holiday season events in the country, with almost an expected million people in attendance, is not affected.

The Chikungunya is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus. The two transmitters mosquitoes are in the country: Aedes Aegypti and Aedes albopictus, which are the same that spread Dengue.

The main symptoms of this virus are very high fever and intense joint pain.

Currently, the areas with confirmed cases of the virus are Chomes (Puntarenas), Manzanillo and Tamarindo (Guanacaste), according to María Ethel Trejos Solórzano, head of Vigilancia de la Salud (Health Surveillance).

The concern is the number of cases that have not been reported, case of people with possible infections not seeking medical attention. This is because many do not count with Caja (CCSS) coverage.