About Zika Virus
Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health on Tuesday sent a formal request to the World Health Organization (WHO) asking to be removed from the list of nations with active, indigenous transmission of the Zika virus.
Minister of Health, Fernando Llorca said that in the view of Costa Rican health officials, there is no evidence that the virus is actively circulating in the country.
As a result, the minister said that Costa Rica “respectfully asks to be removed from the list” which includes countries “where there are dozens or even hundreds of confirmed cases, such as Nicaragua, Mexico, and South American nations.”
On February 2nd, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) included Costa Rica in a list of countries where Americans should avoid travel as a result of the virus, after a tourist from the United States fell ill with the virus after visiting the country. The WHO followed suit three days later.
While many Costa Rican health officials have described as “likely” that the tourist in question did in fact catch the virus while visiting Costa Rica, officials say that the case is still not fully confirmed, and that there have been no other cases of indigenous transmission of the virus either in the province of Guanacaste, where the tourist had visited, or anywhere else in the country.
Costa Rican health officials also say they continue to wait for additional information from the CDC in order to determine conclusively if the tourist contracted the virus in Costa Rica or elsewhere.
Meanwhile, lab tests have ruled out some 30 suspected cases of Zika as negative.
Besides the US tourist, Costa Rica has only two other confirmed cases of Zika, both imported from abroad. One case was confirmed in a Costa Rican man who had returned from a trip to Colombia, where he is believed to have contracted the virus. The second case was in a man who was visiting from Honduras.
Health Minister Llorca and Security Minister, Gustavo Mata announced on Monday plans for a massive mobilization of some 14,000 workers from the Ministry of Public Security (MSP) to be deployed alongside workers from the Ministry of Health to fumigate and eliminate breeding grounds of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which spreads the Zika virus as well as dengue and Chikungunya.