Message for U.S. Citizens: San Jose (Costa Rica), Dengue Fever Health Alert
Disease Outbreak
Western Hemisphere > Costa Rica; Western Hemisphere > Costa Rica > San Jose

The U.S. Embassy in San Jose informs U.S. citizens residing in or visiting Costa Rica that the Costa Rican Ministry of Health has declared a health alert due to an increase in dengue fever cases. We recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Costa Rica monitor the Center for Disease Control website, the Costa Rican Ministry of Health website, and local Costa Rican news reports for the most current information.


Dengue fever is a mosquito borne viral illness. It is spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito which can bite both during the day and at night. This mosquito can bite a person more than once or bite more than one person before finishing its meal. The symptoms of dengue fever usually appear about 5-7 days after the infecting mosquito bite. There is a blood test to diagnose dengue but it is not accurate until almost a week after the symptoms appear. Therefore, anytime you think you have symptoms that might be dengue fever, seek medical attention for an evaluation. In rare cases, ordinary dengue fever can become severe dengue fever (or hemorrhagic dengue fever) which is a serious and potentially life threatening complication.


The symptoms for ADULTS are very obvious:
• High fever (104 Fahrenheit or above)
• Headache
• Muscle and bone pain
• Sore throat
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• A pinpoint red rash may start on the trunk and spread outward
• Small purplish spots (petechiae) may occur on the extremities
• The illness lasts 7-10 days. The fever is almost never more than 7 days in duration
The symptoms for CHILDREN may be more subtle:
• The temperature may not be as high
• They may be very cranky and irritable
• Vomiting can be more prevalent

If a child or an adult has the more severe form, dengue hemorrhagic fever, the symptoms include, for example; easy and continuous bruising and bleeding, displacement of fluid from the circulatory system to other spaces like the lungs and abdomen, and a subsequent drop in blood pressure and shock. In the severe form of dengue the illness is very obviously serious.


Because it is caused by a virus, there is no antibiotic to cure dengue. The treatment is symptomatic – FLUIDS, FLUIDS, FLUIDS rest and Tylenol (acetaminophen, panadol, parcetamol) according topackage instructions for fever and aches. DO NOT use Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), Aspirin, or other NSAIDS (naproxen, Aleve, ketoprofen) if you think you or your child may have dengue. If there is easy and continuous bruising and bleeding, swelling, severe weakness or other signs of severe (hemorrhagic) Dengue Fever, go to the emergency room at once.


There is no vaccine or preventative medication to decrease your chance of getting dengue fever. The best way to avoid getting sick is to prevent or minimize your exposure to mosquito bites.

Everyone should take basic precautions, such as:

• Always close un-screened doors and windows tightly
• Wear long-sleeve shirts and pants
• Apply DEET containing mosquito repellent according to label instructions. Use DEET insect repellent liberally, both when indoors and outdoors.
• Ensure screen mesh is intact and small enough to prevent entry of mosquitoes
• Eliminate all breeding sites at residences: Remove all standing water from gardens, drains, gutters and any place in or around the house.
• Use larvacide in outdoor laundry areas, especially if your sink contains water open to the air. A good larvacide is Abate.
• Weekly cleaning of the walls of the laundry area with a mixture of Clorox and detergent
For more information on the disease, please visit the Center for Disease Control’s website at Center for Disease Control Website.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Costa Rica enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Regularly monitor the State Department’s website at Department of State Website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution. Read the Country Specific Information for Costa Rica at Country Specific Information. For additional information, refer to “A Safe Trip Abroad” on the State Department’s website.

Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions. You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitter at ACS Twitter and Facebook at ACS Facebook, and download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App at Smart Traveler iPhone to have travel information at your fingertips.

The U.S. Embassy in San Jose is located at Av. O Calle 120, Rohrmoser. If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance, the emergency number for the U.S. Embassy is 2519-2000.

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