Costa Rica‘s central Pacific town of Parrita and its environs are suffering a dengue fever epidemic that so far has reached 223 cases this year –more than five times more than all of last year.
The outbreak is blamed largely on Tropical Storm Alma, which inundated the region in May, creating standing water that served as rich breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that spread the virus.
Last year, health officials reported just 40 cases.
“It’s an extremely high increase,” said Dr. Edgar Carrillo of the MaxTeranValsHospital in Quepos. “We’re seeing an average of at least one patient per day. We’re exhausted.”
Carrillo said the anti-dengue mobilization includes the work of the Social Security System, Health Ministry, and the Wal-Mart and HOLCIM companies.
“We’re going door to door, educating people and giving them mosquito repellant,” he said. “And we’re going out and trying to drain any areas with standing water, often times garbage containers.”
While dengue has become serious in Parrita, the doctor said he has only seen one possible case of hemorrhagic dengue thus far this year.
Dengue has no cure aside from bed rest. It normally takes a week to recover from, Carrillo said. Hemorrhagic dengue, sometimes fatal, is a strain of the virus that causes bruising and bleeding of the nose, gums and other orifices.
The Parrita area has also seen a resurgence of whooping cough, Carrillo said, an illness authorities thought they had previously eradicated.