San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Measures Help Reduce Malaria, Dengue Fever

Malaria and dengue fever cases registered in the beginning of this year were significantly fewer than those registered during the same time period in 2008, the Health Ministry announced this week.

Through May 3 of this year, the number of registered cases of malaria dropped 65 percent when compared with the same time period in 2008, the ministry said. Dengue numbers saw a 46 percent reduction.

The ministry attributed the improved numbers to heightened preventive measures in the more at-risk regions of the country, adding that actions taken have included informative campaigns in affected regions to increase awareness on how best to combat the diseases.

The country is seeing the benefits of the increased education in the countryside, and especially among rural farmers and banana workers, the ministry said.

The most affected areas for malaria were in the region around Limón, where 58 of the 78 malaria cases were registered, according to the ministry. More than half of the 1,103 cases of dengue fever, on the other hand, were reported in the Central Pacific region.

Both diseases are spread by mosquitoes. Malaria tends to attack people mostly in rural regions, while dengue fever is just as prominent in urban centers as in the countryside. The use of mosquito nets is considered a key way to prevent the spread of the disease.

Dengue fever results in a severe headache, muscle and joint pains, fever and a bright red rash. It usually lasts about a week, though some rare complications result in death.

Malaria is characterized by fever, chills and nausea, and in severe cases can result in coma and death.

–Daniel Shea


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