The list includes the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean that have confirmed virus circulation and applies to pregnant women. (AFP)
(Photo AFP)

QCOSTARICA – The Ministry of Health (Ministerio de Salud ) confirmed the first case of the Zika virus in Costa Rica, a 25 year-old man, resident of Desamparados, who contracted the virus on a trip to Colombia.

According to Health officials, the man developed symptoms on January 22, while he was still in Colombia.

They added that the man was staying in a house where some people had the virus, returning to Costa Rica on January 23 and sought medical attention on the 24th at San Juan de Dios hospital on the 24th. On Tuesday, two days later, it was recommended he remain isolated at his home, to avoid further infections.

“The decision was that it was better he recover at home, being isolated. If he remained in hospital people who be at risk. Clinically the severity of the case was not enough to have him hospitalized.  We will be monitoring of patient outcomes will be maintained beyond overcome the disease but of the possible consequences it could have on a short term, ” said Dr. Fernando Llorca Castro, minister of Health.

On Tuesday, Health officials suspected a second case of the Zika virus, a man returning to Costa Rica from Honduras.

On Wednesday, the acting director of the Department of Health Surveillance Daniel Salas, explained that laboratory results confirmed that the disease was not Zika

As the mysterious virus spreads across the Americas, various airlines are offering a refund or waive change fees for people who cancel trips to affected areas.

United Airlines said it would a full refund or waive change fees, American Airlines had a more limited policy.  “We will allow a customer to receive a refund if they provide a doctor’s note, stating that they are unable to travel to one of the following cities due to their pregnancy: San Salvador; San Pedro Sula; Tegucigalpa; Panama City; Guatemala City,” the airline told NBC News.

British Airways said pregnant customers with flights to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, or to Mexico City or Cancun (Mexico), could change their booking free of charge, delay their journey or choose an alternative destination. This applies through February.

South American carriers LAN Airlines and TAM Airlines are also offering to change tickets for pregnant passengers traveling to Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, French Guiana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Surinam and Venezuela.

All the airlines said they are constantly reviewing their policies on refunds and changes to bookings.

The Zika virus has spread to at least 25 countries. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning pregnant women against travel to those areas.

What is Zika?

Zika virus is a member of the Flaviviridae virus family and the Flavivirus genus. In humans, it initially causes a mild illness known as Zika fever, Zika, or Zika disease.

Zika virus presents similar to those caused by dengue or chikungunya symptoms. The three viruses are transmitted by the mosquito Aedes aegypti circulating in the country.

For the virus to move to a new place, a person with active infection must be bitten locally by an Aedes aegypti mosquito and then that mosquito has to bite someone else. The more people who are infected, the more likely the virus is to spread. But in cold weather such spread is unlikely.

The virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947 and was unknown in the Americas until 2014. The disease is usually relatively mild but PAHO, the regional arm of the WHO, says it may be linked to cases of brain damage in newborn babies in Brazil.