A year after a nationwide dengue epidemic, the Ministerio de Salud reported greatly reduced numbers for 2014. Confirmed dengue afflictions have dropped by 67 percent from last year’s peak, although there are still more than 1,000 people affected.
Through the Mi Comunidad Sin Dengue campaign, ministry officials claim the agency is headed on the right path in efforts to eliminate dengue from Costa Rica and said they expect these statistics to remain low throughout the year. Numbers remain highest in the northwest region of Chorotega, specifically the Cañas and Bagaces cantons in Guanacasate.
Over all, the 1,062 cases reported this year are about 34 percent of the cases reported by this time last year.
The decrease in dengue’s prevalence comes after a concerted attack on its root causes, primarily mosquitos carrying the disease and the standing waters that become compromised. In Santa Cruz, Guanacaste, the ministry is coordinating with community members and leaders on plans to build four biogardens that will treat non-sanitary waters for neighborhood homes. Models like this one will allow families access to clean water, while also not contaminating local rivers and streams.
According to the ministry, nearly 100 people will directly benefit from this new infrastructure of alternative water sources. And indirectly, the report said, it will lead to a healthier and better off community by initializing an environmentally sound future.
The ministry has also been working with the Unión Nacional de Gobiernos Locales since last August to conduct more field work and research in the most affected areas.
They immediately helped to prevent and battle dengue in 10 cantons, contributing to the disease’s rapid decline. Zeidy Morales Pérez said that Unión Nacional has been able to give the ministry a different vantage point by working closely with the communities.
“I believe last year lacked greater citizen participation in the communities,” said Ms. Morales. “The ministry took advantage of social media but did not have the view from the ground that Unión Nacional has been able to bring.”
Dengue is also referred to as the breakbone fever and is transmitted by mosquitos, most commonly the A. aegypti species. The tropical-based virus causes fever and muscle or joint problems and is characterized by a rash that appears on the skin. Currently no specific vaccine has been found to battle dengue.