Malaria Outbreak in Costa Rica

The Costa Rican Ministry of Health reported 9 cases of locally transmitted malaria from March 2017–September 13, 2017. Cases were reported in focal areas, including: Matina Canton (4) in Limon Province, Sarapiqui Canton (3) in Heredia Province, and Pital District in San Carlos Canton (2) in Alajuela Province. No official report on the species of malaria parasite or the origin of the cases in Heredia and Alajuela Provinces is available. Two cases in Matina Canton are thought to be relapses, possibly related to a previous outbreak at the end of 2016 when 4 cases of locally transmitted P. vivax were reported in the same district. There was no documented local transmission in Costa Rica from 2012–2015.

Public health authorities in Costa Rica are responding to this outbreak by enhancing malaria surveillance, ensuring timely case management, and educating the community and health care workers on malaria.

As malaria and other diseases are spread by mosquito bites, CDC recommends that travelers to Costa Rica use mosquito avoidance measures. These measures include using insect repellent when outdoors, wearing protective clothing, staying in an air-conditioned or well-screened area, and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net.

CDC will continue to monitor the malaria situation in Costa Rica and will update these recommendations as needed.

See the CDC malaria website for additional health information about malaria including prevention of mosquito bites and drugs for malaria prevention. For general health information for travelers to all areas of the world, see the CDC Travelers’ Health website.

Page last reviewed: September 19, 2017