A 14 year old girl from the Jaco area is the first confirmed case of the potentially fatal Guillain-Barre syndrome
A 14 year old girl from the Jaco area is the first confirmed case of the potentially fatal Guillain-Barre syndrome

(Q Costa Rica) Health officials on Thursday confirmed the first local case of the potentially fatal Guillain-Barre syndrome associated with the Zika virus.

The  Ministerio de Salud Avanzada (ministry of Health) said in a press release, after receiving confirmation from the Instituto Costarricense de Investigación y Enseñanza en Nutrición y Salud (Inciensa), that a 14-year-old girl, resident of Copey de Jacó,  is the first Costa Rican to develop Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), after contracting the virus Zika.

The Pacific coastal town of Playa Jaco (Jaco Beach) is where the main outbreak of Zika has been concentrated.

In the statement, Health officials said the young girl, who has a history asthma and suffered dengue fever a year ago,  experienced high temperatures, widespread rashes and other symptoms characteristic of Zika last month, after which her condition appeared to improve, the ministry said.

Some days later, “the patient woke in the morning with a feeling of intense burning pain in her lower limbs which later included both hips, weakness and difficulty walking and breathing”, the statement said.

This is one of the complications associated with this virus infection, transmitted by the mosquito Aedes aegypti, the same that spread Dengue and Chikungunya.

As of last week, Costa Rica has registered 351 cases of Zika so far this year, 119 of them concentrated around Jaco, according to a health ministry report released Wednesday. Recorded also are 1,754 cases of Chikungunya and 11,484 of Dengue, mostly in the Pacific coastal zone.

There is no vaccine or cure for Zika.

Besides Guillain-Barre, however, the virus is also blamed for causing the birth defect microcephaly – which results in abnormally small heads – in babies born to infected mothers.

To date, in Costa Rica there has been no birth and among the 15 pregnant women who have contracted zika in the country, so far this year.

In Honduras, last week six births of babies with microcephaly were reported.

Zika has been detected in 64 countries and territories, mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Health officials also laid out a set of recommendations to those participating in the ISA World Surf Games that will take place in Jaco from August 6 to 14.

The recommendations are mainly aimed at pregnant women, who are being asked to refrain from visiting the area because of the risk involved. In addition to the Jaco area, the recommendations extend to the areas of Orotina, Quepos, Parrita and Santa Cruz.

Visitors to those areas are being asked to use mosquito nets, repellents, condoms (to prevent transmission of the virus through sexual contact), and clothing that covers arms and legs.