The Zika virus may seem as though it’s a relatively new virus that has been going around, but it’s actually been around since at least the 1920s. Zika is spread through the Aedes mosquitos which are active during the daytime and cause an illness that is similar to dengue fever.
There are actually at least two different strains of the virus, one Asian and one African, and these mosquitos have carried this illness all over the world, but especially into the more tropical locations such as Central and South America, the Caribbean, and parts of Africa.
While many locations are not at a high risk of being exposed to the virus, Costa Rica is one of the countries that have experienced outbreaks of the Zika virus since 2016.
The areas of Costa Rica that are most susceptible are those areas that have an elevation under 6,500 feet because the mosquitos which carry the virus normally don’t live at that elevation. Unfortunately, most of the country is under 6,500 feet.
According to recent data, in 2019 there were only a total of 201 cases of Zika reported. This is a huge improvement compared to when Zika first started showing up in 2016 when Costa Rica saw nearly 2,000 cases as well the following year when there were more than 2,000 in 2017.
2018 was the year that things really started improving as there were only about 400 cases reported, most of them occurring in the Limón area.
Currently and fortunately, while Costa Rica does have a history of Zika virus transmission, there is no immediate evidence of any large-scale outbreaks. That doesn’t mean that those who live in Costa Rica or who may be visiting should not take precautions, because an outbreak could always occur at anything and without much notice.
So when is the best time to visit Costa Rica in light of this information and how can you plan your trip?
While it is very unlikely that you would contract Zika in Costa Rica, there are a few things you can do to help reduce your risk even further.
The first thing you can do is try to plan your trip at a time when the mosquitos are least active. On the Pacific side of the country, this would be between January and late April. On the other side of the country, late September through early November, which is the dry season, is going to be the best time.
Outside of choosing when to visit, there are some other things you can do to reduce your risk of contracting Zika.
When choosing a place to stay such as a hotel, make sure that you’re choosing lodging that has adequate air conditioning or fans. Air conditioning is going to be optimal, but fans will help some.
I would highly recommend you talking to a travel agent who is an expert about Costa Rica because they’re going to be able to help you with making proper lodging arrangements.
Wearing sunscreen and bug repellent as well as dressing properly such as wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, high socks, and boots are going to be the best things that you can do when going outside of your hotel room.
So overall, is it safe to travel to Costa Rica? Yes, there is no imminent threat of contracting Zika right now. I think that you can rest assured that if you plan a family vacation, a honeymoon, or just a fun trip to Costa Rica, you will be able to have a worry-free and fun trip.