Dengue and Other Tropical Diseases

Life in Panama is not without risk of some nasty tropical diseases. The easily identified, beautiful, but potentially deadly aedes aegypti mosquito lives here and can carry dengue, Zika, chikungunya, and yellow fever, a disease that killed so many who came to build the canal.

Thankfully, yellow fever is no longer a problem, and I think the risk of other diseases is relatively low in this area but it is still present. As the notice below states, they have confirmed 17 cases of dengue in Chiriquí.

MINSA, the Panamanian health department, has been working hard to control mosquitoes and and educate the public. They were here last week inspecting yards for standing water, and they fined a neighbor who had water collected in their pool cover. I have a sticker on my door from past visits when they talked with me.

Yesterday, Radio Chiriquí posted this on their Facebook page:


El nivel de infestación del mosquito aedes aegypti en la provincia de Chiriquí aumentó la semana pasada a 2.4% y a 17 el número de casos confirmados de dengue, informó el Jefe Regional de Control de Vectores, Tec. Patricio Camarena.

En el Barrio Estudiante de La Concepción: nueve de cada cien viviendas inspeccionadas por el Ministerio de Salud estaban infestadas del aedes aegypti, vector transmisor de los virus del dengue, del zika, del chikungunya y de la fiebre amarilla.

En el barrio San Mateo y en la Barriada San José la infestación del aedes aegypti era de 5.4%; en Victoriano Lorenzo y Portachuelo del 4%; en Doleguita del 3%, en Pedregal del 2.8% y en Caimito de Dolega 3.8%.

El funcionario advirtió que por ser un área de tránsito nacional e internacional, la provincia de Chiriquí enfrenta la amenaza del contagio de dengue y otras enfermedades transmisibles.

Mañana (22) Control de Vectores realiza una masiva inspección y nebulización de insecticidas en el corregimiento de Las Lomas y el próximo jueves en Pedregal, informó el Tec. Camarena.

“Seguimos trabajando día y noche, con énfasis en áreas donde registran casos de dengue y altos niveles de infestación de aedes; pero la participación de la ciudadanía es vital para el control de esta amenaza”, expresó Camarena.

Cualquier objeto que retenga agua bajo sombra es un potencial criadero del aedes aegypti y estos insectos pueden volar cientos de metros, agregó el Tec. Camarena; quien advirtió que los insecticidas solo exterminan mosquitos adultos.

very roughly translated by Google,  because I don’t feel like writing it out… 😑

The level of infestation of the Aedes aegypti mosquito in the province of Chiriqui increased last week to 2.4% and to 17 the number of confirmed cases of dengue, said the Chief of Vector Control, Tec. Patricio Camarena.
In the Student District of La Concepción: nine out of every hundred homes inspected by the Ministry of Health were infested with aedes aegypti, vector transmitter of the dengue, zika, chikungunya and yellow fever viruses.
In the San Mateo neighborhood and in the San José neighborhood, the aedes aegypti infestation was 5.4%; in Victoriano Lorenzo and Portachuelo of 4%; in Doleguita of 3%, in Pedregal of 2.8% and in Caimito de Dolega 3.8%.
The official warned that because it is an area of ​​national and international transit, the province of Chiriqui faces the threat of contagion of dengue and other communicable diseases.
Tomorrow (22) Control of Vectors performs a massive inspection and nebulization of insecticides in the village of Las Lomas and next Thursday in Pedregal, Tec. Camarena reported.
“We continue working day and night, with emphasis in areas where they register cases of dengue and high levels of aedes infestation; but the participation of citizens is vital to control this threat, “said Camarena.
Any object that retains water under shade is a potential breeding ground for Aedes aegypti and these insects can fly hundreds of meters, added Tec. Camarena; who warned that insecticides only exterminate adult mosquitoes.

I really appreciate that they are working hard on mosquito control! A friend in Pedasi got Dengue and it was no fun at all. Other friends in Nicaragua and Ecuador had chikungunya and so much joint pain they couldn’t do simple things to take care of themselves, and it seems like it went on forever. Thankfully I am very aware of mosquito control from living in Florida. I carry bug repellant in my gardening bucket, and have more at my “outside office”. It would be a bummer to derail my happy life with one of these diseases.

If you want to learn more, I’m sure google will turn up lots of info. And, don’t think this is an issue only in the tropics! These mosquitoes and the potential for their diseases can be found in the southern US also, and they seem to be adapting to colder climates so they can continue their progression north. Be vigilant about eliminating standing water and protecting yourself. The consequences can be more than an itchy bite.

About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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4 Responses to Dengue and Other Tropical Diseases

  1. oldsalt1942 says:

    I had a bought with Dengue in ”92 on the Rio Dulce in Guatemala. There’s a REASON it’s also called “Breakbone Fever.” Even your eyelashes hurt. When I was living down there in Boqueron I used to listen to radio station CHT (Say Achay Tay) and during the rainy season they’d air a public service announcement about Dengue and warn against standing water. The horrible thing about Dengue is there’s no immunity and each time you are unfortunate enough to get it it’s worse than the time before.


    • Sorry you had to experience that! I have heard it recommended that if you get it once, it’s better to leave than risk getting it again. That’s even more reason to be careful. I don’t want to leave.


  2. Just today when I stood up in the cyber – after sitting for several hours – I moved like the Tin Man and soberly stated, “Chikungunya.” It’s evil, and the side effects live on for years! It’s been three years for me.

    On retrospect, I think that physically-active people are having stronger effects – perhaps from a lifetime of wear and tear on joints? There are days when I hold something with a tight grip, and my hand spasms/freezes. With the other hand, I straighten my fingers, and then all’s fine. After a long session of painting, my fingers are often swollen the next day – as if suffering from bad arthritis. The good news is that the effects wear off after a few minutes – just like the Tin Man needing a dose of oil in his joints!

    I actually had a co-infection – Dengue for the second time, and Chikungunya hopped aboard as well. Having both dengue and ChikV at the same time was a challenge – two months to regain my strength. I now have immunity against two of the four strains of Dengue – it was over 15 years between cases, and I hope that the other two options stay wayyyyyy out of my reach!

    Is ” Chiriqui” the area around David? I’m not real familiar with the weather patterns there – vs Guancaste/CR, but it seems early for dengue to start this year’s cycle…

    That’s great that the municipality is being proactive – including fines – to keep the mosquito population as low as possible.

    Your vision problems are sobering ones, and I’m glad that you have good doctors who seem confident that this is fixable! May you clear all of those hurdles pronto!
    i wrote this offline, and am now back in town to send it… sorry it’s so long!


    • Oh sheesh, that’s awful, and that you are still feeling the effects after all this time? I’m so sorry you have had to go through all this.
      Yes, Chiriquí is the province in western Panama and David is in Chiriquí. People here are very proud to be from Chiriquí, with good reason. I think it’s the most beautiful province.
      My eye is getting a little better day by day. I think it was coming on for longer than I thought, but wasn’t bad enough so I could easily ignore it. So no surprise recovery won’t happen overnight.
      Write all you want. It’s much faster to read than to write and I’m always glad to hear from you. I hope there is no more dengue or anything else in your future!

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