The house in Tinoco in Palmar Norte were the boy lived. | Photo: Alfonso Quesada for La Nacion
The house in Tinoco in Palmar Norte were the boy lived. | Photo: Alfonso Quesada for La Nacion

COSTA RICA NEWS – The Ministerio de Salud and the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal (SENASA) – Ministry of Health and the National Animal Health Service – have issuced an alert in Tinoco de Palmar Norte, in the southern zone, following the death of a nine year old boy for rabies.

Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute inflammation of the brain in humans and other warm-blooded animals. The time period between contracting the disease and the start of symptoms is usually one to three months; however it can vary from less than one week to more than one year.

The time is dependent on the distance the virus must travel to reach the central nervous system.Early symptoms may include fever and tingling at the site of exposure. This is then followed by either violent movements, uncontrolled excitement, and fear of water or an inability to move parts of the body and confusion followed by loss of consciousness.

Once symptoms appear it nearly always results in death.

Starting yesterday (Thursday) SENASA began a massive vaccination campaign against rabies in this rural community, immunizing some 1.000 cattle, dogs, horses, pigs, goats and sheep, said the deputy director of SENASA, Alexis Sandí.

At the smae time the Ministerio de Salud and the Salud y la Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) – Health and Social Security – began monitoring those closest to the deceased child, mainly the five immediate members of the his family, who were vaccinated against rabies, as a preemtive measure.

The viceministra de Salud, María Esther Anchía Angulo, confirmed that the boy died Wednesday, July 16, at the Hospital Nacional de Niños (Children’s Hospital in San José).

This is the ninth death from rabies in Costa Rica since 1967, the last two deaths occurring in 2001, the victims were residents of Corredores, in the province of Puntarenas, in the southern zone.

Minimizing a squirrel bite led to death, boy could have been saved.
Disregarding bite of a squirrel led to death, boy could have been saved.

According to the viceministra, the boy, whose identity has not been made public, fell ill on July 4. On July 7 he was taken to the Children’s hospital suspected of having the Chikungunya (Chikv) virus, because of fever and body aches,

Through interviews with family members, doctors learned that the boy had been bitten by a squirrel, on May 5, and had also recently visited a cabin, with the presence of bats.

A post-mortem confirmed the rabies infection.

Although the country eliminated canine rabies since 1970, said Sandi, Health authorities yesterday made ​​an appeal to pet owners to vaccinate their dogs and cats.

Every year, cases are recorded of rabies in cattle (known as bovine paralytic rabies) that have been infected by bats that feed on blood (vampires).

Best is not to touch wild animals, as a precaution.

Sources: La Nacion; FAO; CRHoy: Wikipedia


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