Malaria, Zika, Dengue fever, Yellow fever, encephalitis, others
Wow, it seems that Mosquitoes are worse carriers of disease than rats.
They are reported as being responsible for making 20% of the world sick every single year.
In the USA, dengue fever and malaria are ‘back’. In Canada we have West Nile Virus.
Like Canada and most of the USA, in Costa Rica, including the Samara, Guanacaste region, mosquitoes are mostly ‘pests’ with a low ‘risk’ of serious illness.
In Canada, we are told to take precautions because, while the risk is low, it is not zero, most of this warning has come in the past years as we’ve had more and more incidences of West Nile Virus, and from my reading about the diseases from mosquitoes in the USA, especially the Southern States, I assume that people there should take precautions too.
But remember, you are going to be outside more – so your risk will be higher because of that factor. And remember, mosquitoes easily bite through thin clothing – especially clothing that is tight against the skin like tight jeans, or anywhere your clothing is ‘tight’ to hold it to your body – such as a waist band if it isn’t very thick.
The most important piece of information in this page is the ‘So what should you do?’ part at the bottom.
So as of October 2019, using various sources, but especially the Canada Blood Services and the CDC:
There is no “locally transmitted” Malaria in Costa Rica. One source says “less than 10 in 100,000” and that is likely due to people coming from Nicaragua or Panama or other countries with the disease – not from catching it in Costa Rica. Note that there is Malaria in nearby countries, such as the East side of Nicaragua, one state in Panama ‘close’ to Costa Rica, and several other states in Panama. While Guanacaste is ‘fairly’ close there is currently no worry in Samara, Nosara, Liberia or really, any other areas of Costa Rica that you might decide to travel to.
There is currently no “locally transmitted” Zika in Costa Rica. But due a variety of reasons, the Canadian Blood society requires that I not give blood for 21 days after I’ve been to Costa Rica. As of writing, there are no Zika outbreaks, but if there is, Costa Rica could become one of the locations.
Dengue: Fairly rare – one report said you are more likely to get it in the Southern USA than in Costa Rica.
Yellow Fever: Not in this part of the world
Encephalitis: About the same risk as the USA.
Irritation. Is there anything of low volume more annoying than a mosquito’s buzz?
Itch: Up until I was about 35 years old, mosquito bites itched and itched and itched. I used gallons of ‘stop-itch’ through the years, and those products only gave me short term relief. But then when I was about 35, I was helping my wife at a kids camp she was running, I counted over 100 mosquito bites (I counted most of them.) on the second day. For years after that, mosquito bites never itched – I guess I built up immunity. But due to travelling and West Nile Virus, and because I hate the sound and site of mosquitoes, I have used more and more insect repellent since that time – and I noticed in 2019 that mosquito bites, the few I did get, were starting to itch a small amount. So I suspect if I keep not getting many, my body is losing its immunity to the itch, and the few I do get are going to be a good reminder to keep using protection against bites.
So what should you do?
Use insect repellents that actually work. (Don’t fall for the Amway skin lotion scam.) For most people, DEET and Picaridin are your best choices. Whichever one(s) you use, apply them often enough.
See for details: