More than 57 percent of school-age children in Costa Rica are currently affected by intestinal parasites and infections, while 32 percent of children attending preschool and kindergarten are also at risk.
Such are the results of the recently conducted National Survey of Nutrition. According to a news report by Alonso Solis of Radio Reloj 94.3 FM, intestinal illnesses tend to increase during the rainy season, and in the current month of May, 23 percent of all children seen at the Children’s Hospital have some sort of intestinal ailment related to parasites and infections. The typical symptoms are stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
The foremost preventive measure against the propagation of these diseases is personal hygiene. According to Dr. Roberto Herrera from the Metropolitan Hospital, the best way to prevent such diseases is to educate children in the proper washing of their hands before every meal and after they go to the bathroom:
“Children are exposed to a series of factors that predispose them to intestinal diseases. It’s not just parasites that children can come in contact with; they can also contract bacteria and viruses that can cause disease and different conditions, from mild diarrhea to more serious symptoms that can land them in the emergency room.”
Las week, the Ministry of Public Health sent health workers to La Carpio, a low-income neighborhood near a major Central Valley landfill that began as a squatter camp established by Nicaraguan immigrants years ago. In that community alone, 39 children were treated for hepatitis A, an acute condition caused by a virus that does not persist in the blood serum, and that is usually transmitted by ingesting food or drink that is contaminated with fecal matter.