Malaria Outbreak Reported in Costa Rica

The Costa Rican Ministry of Health reported an outbreak of P. falciparum malaria in Limón Province primarily affecting the cantons of Pococí and Limón. At the time of this notice, the majority of cases were detected from April 2 through April 11, 2023. The latest information on the outbreak can be found on the Ministry of Health’s website.

Public health authorities in Costa Rica are responding to this outbreak by enhancing malaria surveillance, ensuring timely case management for febrile illness, and educating the community and health care workers on malaria prevention. Malaria illness caused by P. falciparum can rapidly progress to life-threatening severe disease in the absence of prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Previously, CDC only recommended malaria chemoprophylaxis for travelers to Alajuela Province near the border with Nicaragua. CDC now recommends malaria chemoprohylaxis for travelers visiting Limón and Alajuela Provinces in Costa Rica. CDC will continue to monitor the malaria situation in Costa Rica and will update these recommendations as needed.

After having reported no documented local transmission in Costa Rica from 2012–2015, cases have been gradually increasing since 2016 with 189 locally acquired cases reported in 2021, mostly in Alajuela Province (near the border with Nicaragua).

CDC recommends travelers to any area of Costa Rica use mosquito avoidance measures to protect from malaria and other diseases spread by mosquito bites. 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.

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.