Health Ministry officials said last week that they have not recorded any new cases of people infected with Zika virus since early March. The number of confirmed cases since the beginning of this year remains 12.
The Ministry confirmed the first two local cases of Zika on Feb. 22 and has since said that six women and two men have contracted the mosquito-borne virus here.
All of those infected here live in the canton of Nicoya, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. Seven of them are residents of Sámara and one is from Nosara. Four other people contracted Zika during trips to Colombia, Honduras and Nicaragua.
This latest Health Ministry update also states that the ministry ruled out 142 suspected cases of Zika in Guanacaste through laboratory tests.
Health officials said they had inspected more than 180,000 homes in Guanacaste and removed nearly 210,000 potential mosquito-breeding sites. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water.
Health Surveillance Director Daniel Salas Peraza said the lack of new Zika cases in recent weeks was evidence of the success of prevention efforts by the Ministry, Social Security System, local municipalities and private companies.
Salas said the current dry season is the best time to stop the spread of Zika, as well as dengue and chikungunya, two other harmful viruses transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Data from the first two months of this year show a significant jump in cases compared to the number of cases recorded during the same time period last year.
The transition to this year’s rainy season, which according to forecasts from the National Meteorological Institute, will start mid-April to late May in different parts of the country, likely will increase the number of cases of mosquito-borne diseases, Salas said.
Still, Salas expressed confidence in “a decrease in the number of confirmed case” thanks to amped up prevention efforts currently being developed in Guanacaste.
Local groups such as the Guanacaste Tourism Chamber (CATURGUA) have joined government efforts to eradicate mosquito-breeding sites throughout the province, a major destination for both local and foreign tourists.
Thus far, Zika fears appear to have had only a minor impact on tourism in the region. CATURGUA president Priscilla Solano Castillo said earlier this month that hotels in the province reported an average occupancy of 98 percent for Holy Week.