The mayor in the canton that includes the Pacific coast community of Jacó confirmed Tuesday an outbreak of the zika virus there.
The disease may jeopardize the World Surfing Games that are scheduled to be held in Jacó from Aug. 6 to 14.
Tobías Murillo, mayor of the Garabito municipality, said 11 people have been placed under medical surveillance there. He said all of those affected by the disease belong to the Pueblo Nuevo neighborhood.
Zika is a disease related to dengue and the West Nile Virus. It causes fever, rash, conjunctivitis and joint pain. In pregnant women, it may cause babies to be born with abnormally smaller heads.
“We are increasing the support to health inspectors so that they can increase the spraying and clean up of the area.” Murillo said.
He also said that municipal police officers are helping protect inspectors from people who are reluctant to let them into their properties.
“Many of them have a bunch of junk in their backyards, so they refuse to cooperate. We let them know that they could face criminal
consequences for obstructing the inspector’s job.” he added.
The International Surfing Association picked Jacó from a list of three candidate locations in April.The surfing event is expected to be a major tourism draw, not just for Jacó but hotels, car rental agencies and restaurants all along the central Pacific coast and in the Central Valley.
The surfing association said that the games feature national surfing teams consisting of up to four men and two women. With 132 surfers representing 27 countries at the 2015 event, 2016 is expected to be even larger as athletes will flock to compete in Costa Rica, it added.
Spectators are expected to number in the thousands.
If the zika outbreak continues, Murillo said “that would be fatal, not only for Jacó but for the entire country. I hope that by then everything will be taken care of and the championships will flawlessly happen. We will do our best.” he said.
This is the first major zika outbreak in the central Pacific coast. Other cases have been in northern Guanacaste. However, residents of Dominical on the south Pacific coast have complained earlier this month of a dengue outbreak. The same mosquito variety carries dengue and zika.