Malaria in Costa Rica

Warning - Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel
Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions
Watch - Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

Key points

  • There is currently an outbreak of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in the province of Limón, Costa Rica. There is also malaria transmission in Alajuela Province.
  • Malaria can be prevented by avoiding mosquito bites and taking a prescription antimalarial drug.
  • If you are traveling to Limón or Alajuela Province, you should speak to your healthcare professional about how to prevent mosquito bites and which antimalarial drug is best for you. You should start taking antimalarial drugs prior to travel. 
  • Seek medical care if you develop fever, chills, sweats, headache, vomiting, or body aches. Malaria is a medical emergency, and appropriate treatment should not be delayed.
  • The Costa Rican Ministry of Health is conducting investigations and asking residents to take mosquito avoidance measures.

Traveler Information

Clinician Information

Area of malaria outbreak in Costa Rica
Map: Area of Malaria outbreak in Costa Rica (see larger map)
What is Malaria?

Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite that spreads to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito.

Four kinds of malaria parasites infect humans: Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, and P. malariae. P. falciparum is the type of malaria that is most likely to result in severe disease and if not promptly treated, may lead to death.

Early symptoms of malaria resemble those of the flu, including fever, chills, sweats, headache, vomiting, and body aches.

Malaria can be prevented by taking a prescription antimalarial drug to kill the parasites and by avoiding mosquito bites.