The first two confirmed cases of H1N1 ("swine flu") surfaced last week in Costa Rica, triggering activation of the nation's influenza pandemic plan by the Costa Rican Nutrition and Health Research Institute (INCIENSA). Both individuals arrived in Costa Rica from Mexico on separate flights. Officials have attempted to contact all other passengers who traveled on those two flights. An additional two cases – one involving a 53-year-old man with no known ties to Mexico -- were reported in Costa Rica over the weekend.
Costa Rica is the first Latin American country outside Mexico to confirm the presence of H1N1. Colombia became the second when it confirmed a single case over the weekend.
President Oscar Arias immediately decreed the disease a national emergency, releasing funds for the nation's containment plan. "Controlling the proliferation of this virus is practically impossible,” said Arias in a televised press conference last Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Mexico's health minister has announced that the epidemic, which began and has been centered in Mexico, has passed its peak almost two months after the influenza strain was first identified. As I write, about 800 cases of the virus have been confirmed in 19 countries, with the majority in Mexico and the United States. And 23 confirmed deaths have been reported so far worldwide, with 22 in Mexico and one in the United States.
I shall be traveling to Costa Rica this week without fear. If you're planning on traveling, be sure to follow the current travel guidelines of the Center for Disease Control  (CDC) and World Health Organization  (WHO).
See you there!