Map of Malaria cases in 2009, taken from Malaria Atlas Project.
Tourists often debate taking Malaria medication before and during their stay in Costa Rica, that for many carry unwanted side effects. Typical travel warnings will tell you to take it as a precaution if visiting deeper jungle areas, specifically in the Limón Province. Fortunately, we do not have to worry about cases here in the central valley.
Last week the World Health Organization (WHO) released a hopeful report on the state of Malaria throughout the world. It claims Costa Rica could officially erradicate Malaria in 4 - 5 years, and the WHO is working on preparing such a certificate to honor the country.
The study found that Costa Rica has diminished cases of Malaria by 75% from 2000 - 2011, and treatment has improved as no one has died from the illness since 2009.
2 factors have helped Costa Rica eliminate the contraction of Malaria. 90% of cases happened in Matina, Limón due to poor aquaduct systems that held standing water. Improvement of this infrastructure eliminated all cases in the area.
Additionally, there is a reduction of cases in neighboring countries, lessening the number of travelers crossing the border while carrying the disease.
While Malaria may be on its way out the door here in Costa Rica travelers should still take caution against Dengue Fever which produces similar symptoms but is a viral infection, not caused by a parasite. Using mosquito nets and bug spray, specifically at the beaches will help reduce one's chance of infection. The rainy season obviously sees the most cases of Dengue.
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By Stacey Auch.