Double jeopardy: Costa Rica’s Health Ministry reports 2 people were infected with both dengue and chikungunya

December 19, 2014

Coming down with dengue or chikungunya is a feverish nightmare. Now imagine having both viruses at the same time. That’s what happened to two residents of the Pacific community of Chomes, in Puntarenas, who tested positive for both viruses, Costa Rica’s Health Ministry reported Thursday.

The dual diagnoses were confirmed in lab tests by the Costa Rican Nutrition and Health Research Institute.

Roberto Castro, from the ministry’s Health Surveillance Department, said a double infection is possible because both viruses are transmitted by the same mosquitoes – the Aedes aegypti and the Aedes albopictus. Those two mosquitoes can carry the viruses simultaneously.

Castro said both patients are in good condition, and surprisingly neither required hospitalization.

The Health Ministry this week reported 61 cases of chikungunya in the country, of which 42 originated from abroad and 19 were local. All of the local cases originated in the Pacific provinces of Puntarenas and Guanacaste, in the communities of Chomes, Costa Pájaros, Manzanillo and Abangares.

The most recent outbreak of chikungunya began in late November. Ministry staff are responding by fumigating and inspecting sites in both provinces to eliminate objects that collect stagnant water, which serve as breeding sites for mosquitoes.

Also on Thursday, the Social Security System, or Caja, reported 972 cases of dengue at public hospitals nationwide. That number represents a decrease of nearly 80 percent over last year. Nevertheless, Caja officials urged the public to remaing vigilant.

Most cases of dengue (62 percent) were diagnosed in the southern coastal regions, both in the Pacific and the Caribbean.

Dengue and chikungunya cause high fever and severe joint pain. Chikungunya symptoms are more severe and can last for up to 10 months.

Castro called on residents in coastal provinces to help eliminate breeding sites, as the ministry has not ruled out the possibility of additional dual-infection cases.

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