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Dengue Virus in Panama | Expat Exchange
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Coronado, Panama


Dengue Virus in Panama

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Kovalenko & Vera Attorneys at Law in Panama
Kovalenko & Vera Attorneys at Law in Panama

Summary: The Aedes mosquito, known for spreading the dengue virus, is found in Panama. Being aware of dengue symptoms and taking steps to minimize mosquito bites are crucial for your health and safety in this area.

Dengue virus, a mosquito-borne disease, poses a significant public health challenge in tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including Panama. Characterized by high fever, severe headache, and joint pain, dengue can range from a mild illness to a potentially life-threatening condition. In Panama, the fight against dengue is ongoing, with efforts focused on prevention, control, and education. Understanding the nature of the disease, its prevalence, and the measures to prevent and treat it is crucial for both residents and expatriates living in this vibrant Central American nation.

What is Dengue Disease?

Dengue disease is an illness caused by the dengue virus, which is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, primarily Aedes aegypti. Symptoms typically begin three to fourteen days after infection and can include a sudden high fever, severe headaches, pain behind the eyes, joint and muscle pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, skin rash, and mild bleeding (such as nose or gum bleed, or easy bruising). The duration of the illness usually lasts about a week, but the feeling of fatigue and depression can persist for several weeks in some patients. In severe cases, dengue can develop into dengue hemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome, which can be life-threatening. Long-lasting effects are rare but can include depression and fatigue that may linger for months after the acute illness has resolved.

Where is Dengue Most Prevalent in Panama?

Dengue is most prevalent in urban and suburban areas of Panama, where the Aedes mosquitoes thrive due to the availability of standing water in which to breed. Regions such as Panama City, Colon, and the densely populated areas along the Panama Canal are particularly at risk. However, dengue cases have been reported throughout the country, and during the rainy season, the incidence of dengue can increase even in more rural areas due to the proliferation of mosquito breeding sites.

How do Expats in Panama Prevent Mosquito Bites?

Expatriates living in Panama can take several measures to prevent mosquito bites and reduce the risk of contracting dengue. These include using mosquito repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus; wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, especially during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active; using air conditioning or window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside; and eliminating standing water around the home to disrupt the mosquito breeding cycle. Additionally, expats can participate in community efforts to control mosquito populations, such as clean-up campaigns to remove trash and debris that can collect water.

What if I Get Dengue Virus in Panama?

If you suspect you have contracted the dengue virus in Panama, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. There is no specific treatment for dengue, but early detection and access to proper medical care can greatly improve the chances of recovery. Treatment is primarily supportive and includes hydration, pain relief, and fever management. Rest is also crucial. In Panama, both public and private healthcare facilities are equipped to manage dengue cases, and the Ministry of Health (MINSA) has protocols in place for the treatment and reporting of dengue infections.

Is Dengue Virus Contagious?

Dengue virus is not contagious and cannot spread directly from person to person. The only way the virus can be transmitted is through the bite of an infected mosquito. This means that an individual cannot contract dengue through casual contact with an infected person. However, if a mosquito bites a person infected with dengue and then bites another person, it can spread the virus, which underscores the importance of protecting against mosquito bites, especially around someone who is currently infected with dengue.

Is Dengue Virus More Dangerous for Children, Elderly, or Immune-Compromised?

Dengue virus can be more dangerous for certain populations, such as children, the elderly, or those with compromised immune systems. These groups are at a higher risk of developing severe dengue, which can lead to serious complications and even death. Children, in particular, may not have fully developed immune systems and are less able to cope with the severe fluid loss that can accompany dengue hemorrhagic fever. The elderly may have underlying health conditions that can be exacerbated by dengue infection. Immune-compromised individuals, such as those with HIV/AIDS or those undergoing chemotherapy, may have a reduced ability to fight off infections, making them more susceptible to the severe effects of dengue. It is essential for these high-risk groups to take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites and to seek medical care promptly if they exhibit symptoms of dengue.

In conclusion, dengue virus remains a significant health concern in Panama, affecting locals and expatriates alike. Awareness of the disease, its symptoms, and the measures to prevent infection are key to reducing the impact of dengue in the country. With ongoing efforts in public health, community engagement, and individual precautions, the battle against dengue in Panama continues, aiming to protect the health and well-being of all who live in and visit this beautiful nation.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


Kovalenko & Vera Attorneys at Law in Panama
Kovalenko & Vera Attorneys at Law in Panama

Kovalenko & Vera Attorneys at Law in Panama
Kovalenko & Vera Attorneys at Law in Panama

Coronado, Panama

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Kovalenko & Vera Attorneys at Law in Panama
Kovalenko & Vera Attorneys at Law in Panama

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