Influenza in Costa Rica

Oct 18th, 2004, 09:02 AM
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Influenza in Costa Rica

What is the situation of Influenza in Costa Rica.

I seem to get this "bug" every year.
And now there is a massive shortage of flu shots available.

I get the flu shot each year nd still get the flu at times . Why?

Is there any oral medication I can take for this.

Twice I have been ill on holidays and it it no fun.


jmvp is offline  
Oct 18th, 2004, 09:35 AM
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I find there are a lot of misconceptions about "what is the flu". Often people will refer to a stomach virus as the flu. The flu we are vaccinated against is more of a respiratory illness and includes high fever, chills, severe achiness and last for 4-5 days or longer. There are several strains, and one vaccinations doesn't protect from all of them. I don't really know what the flu situation in Costa Rica is, whether it is as prevalent there or not. Hopefully you will NOT get sick on vacation! We all hope this doesn't happen to us! But, if you should, there are excellent medical facilities, emergency care sites, etc. in Costa Rica.
shillmac is offline  
Oct 18th, 2004, 11:24 AM
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This may sound too simplistic but it is very important no matter where you are. Good common sense and lots and lots of handwashing!!! Handwashing is still the single most important thing we can do to protect ourselves (and others) from many communicable diseases.
kthyrn is offline  
Oct 18th, 2004, 01:05 PM
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We took antiseptic handi-wipes with us. You might not always find a well-stocked bathroom at a Soda. Also, for horseback, canopy, rafting, whatever...
TripleSecDelay is offline  
Oct 18th, 2004, 02:06 PM
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Well shillmac gave you the flu symptoms and kthyrn told you about hand washing.

And she is correct hand washing is VERY important..something we forget at times as we are in a hurry.

Let me try to make this simple without going into too much terminology.

The "Flu Shot" that you get each year is for Influenza A and Influenza B.

There are antigen that reside on the surface of ALL Influenza viruses.

These antigens are very specific and so the vaccine has to also be specific.

To use simple term, when these viruses make changes to themselves ( mutations).... the the previous years vaccine is no longer effective.

Therefore ,you have to get a flu shot every year..

When a new vaccine is made every year, it is done so as to target & anticipate the cause of Influenza in the coming year.

You said you have received a flu vaccine and still got the Flu...

Okay, your correct ,but the flu virus was not Influena type A or B...because you were vaccinated against this !!!

It goes like this:

If Influenza A wears a Red jacket and Influenza B wears a Green jacket....and a virus comes along wearing a Blue Jacket.... your vaccine is "out of luck."

If you are going to get a vaccine before going on holidays get it at least 2 weeks before your does not begin until then.. and it last for six months thereafter.

You asked is there oral medication.

Yes there is ...BUT... there is always a but !!

There is a drug called Tamiflu(oseltamavir).
It is only effective against Influenza A & B.
This drug will reduce your symptoms and reduce your duration of illness.

Notice I said will NOT cure your flu.

It is like saying if you were going to be sick 100%, well now ,by using the medication , you will only be sick 60%!!

Another key point is this:

you absolutely MUST take this medication within 48 hours ( 40hours is better) of the onset of your sympotms.

So at the first sign of the sniffles you have to use it.
So you virtually have to have it on hand.
How many of us have Tamiflu on hand !!!!!

Why do you have to use this drug within 40 hours of Flu symptoms.. well I will tell you:

You see when I virus gets into your body cell , it then replicates there are two... now this newly formed virus wants to leave your body cell and go and infect another cell in your body and then replicate again ,..and so on and so on etc.

BUT in order for the new infected viral particle to be released from your body cell, it needs some help.

Well help comes in the form of an enzyme called Neuraminidase.... well it is exactly here where Tamiflu acts...but inhibiting this enzyme....

it is in this manner that your "Flu" is kept under control.

So if you get the vaccine shot...then do NOT waste your money buying the oral medication... as you already have protection.

Once you have the flu , then treatment such as using decongestants or cough medicine or tylenol or asprin is to help your symptoms hopefully make you feel less miserable.

Do I take the Flu Shot...Yes

Have I ever been sick , even after taking the Flu shot ...Yes.

So what is the answer.?

I wish I had a better explanation.


Percy is online now  
Oct 18th, 2004, 05:12 PM
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A flu vaccine (shot) does not guarantee that you will not get the flu, but if you do get the flu the symptoms will be less severe. The flu shot cannot "make" you get the flu either because it is made synthetically, not from a live virus (like it was years ago). Percy gave some good advice about the Tamiflu. Also, if you are lucky enough to get the flu vaccine this year, it may not be the same type of flu that is prevalent in Costa Rica. I am assuming you are talking about respiratory influenza and not some type of stomach bug... which again can be prevented/avoided by diligent handwashing (or use of waterless soap/towelettes as someone else mentioned).
kthyrn is offline  
Oct 18th, 2004, 11:18 PM
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Back to the definition of "flu". I may not know the difference between "cold" and "flu".

Am I the only person who has had great experiences with Zicam for minimizing cold/flu symptoms? Off the shelf, it's about $11.00 USD and I always keep it in my travel bag and my snowsports bag.
TripleSecDelay is offline  
Oct 19th, 2004, 05:30 AM
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Since several responders seem to know a bit about "shots," I'm hoping you can tell me whether you think it's advisable to get a typhoid shot for CR. My physician says check with CDC-- but their website deals only in broad ways with all of central America. No doubt what's advisable in Nicaragua (say) isn't necessarily the same as what's advisable for Costa Rica. Passport Health says yes, absolutely one should get immunized for typhoid-- and they charge $70 a shot, so I wasn't sure how disinterested they were; they seemed to be in the business of "selling" as much as "health care." Thanks for in-put.
poss is offline  
Oct 19th, 2004, 10:11 AM
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Tetanus, measles, hep, as well are advisable in addition to typhoid when traveling abroad. Anywhere. Are they absolutely necessary? No.
TripleSecDelay is offline  
Oct 19th, 2004, 10:48 AM
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TripleSec: You'll know the difference when the next "cold" you get makes you wish you could just get it over with and die--that's the flu!!

Poss: You don't need a typhoid shot anymore than you would if you were flying to New Jersey!

Percy: Thanks for the good info--you always come through with such reliable information.
shillmac is offline  
Oct 19th, 2004, 11:55 AM
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Thank you all so very much.
You have been helpful inalleviating my fear so what.
Percy you really explained the Flu to me in a way I could understand,like shillmac says ,your explantion are always good.
Thanks to you all.
I willkeep reading this post for more information as it is added.
jmvp is offline  
Oct 19th, 2004, 01:11 PM
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There is an oral typhoid vaccine that lasts five years as opposed to the two years for the injectable form. I didn't bother to get it until our last trip to southern Belize, which seemed a little more 'out there' than previous trips to Central America.

I definitely would get vaccinated against Hepatitis A before heading into any 3rd world country. Same goes for having an up to date tetanus.

JeanH is offline  
Oct 19th, 2004, 02:31 PM
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Thank you for the kind words.

But I agree with shillmac about not needing typhoid going to Costa Rica.

I am only making this comment about Costa Rica !!

Also I agree with shillmac ( gee this sounds like a mutual admiration society !!), that you will know when you have the flu.

When you have the sniffles and a sinus confestion and a few muscle aches..but you are still have a Cold.

You have the Flu when :

Like me last Christmas I got the flu (even thoughI had a flu shot), so it was from a completely different virus.

The human body has 206 bones but I can assure you that I could have sworn that I had 207 bones that ached when I had the Flu.

I was in bed or in the house all day Friday,Saturday,Sunday, and had to go somewhere Monday afternoon, so I went for a few hours ..feeling like a dish rag, but now only 173 bones were aching!!!

So you see ,it is like shillmac said, "you WILL know the difference the next time you get a cold."

JeanH .. thank you for your information.
You of course are correct also.

I am getting my Hepatitis A vaccine next week, and as you know another Hep A vaccine six months after.

I already have antibodies against Hepatitis B, because I received three vaccinations for Hep B about 10 years ago.

This is what I did.

I had my blood checked a few weeks ago and my antibodies to Hep B is at 255......anything over 10 is considered I am okay here.

However, my antibodies to Hep A is "Negative" I have no antibodies, so I am getting the vaccine next week.

Let me just mention this:

There are several drug companies that manufacture the Hep A vaccine,they vary as to when the second vaccination of Hep A should take place....

for some it is 6 months for others 8 and still for another one ,it is 1 year.
However it is all written down on that little pamphlet that comes squashed in the small box that contains your vial of Hep A vaccine !!

JeanH ..was the typhoid vaccine required for Belize , or did you just think that you better play safe.?

I do not know how much it costs in your city to have blood work done for Hep A and Hep B, but you can check this way to see if you require the shot...

Better to be safe than sorry..this is not like having Montezuma's Revenge in Mexico..

But that is another topic if someone needs info.

Take Care all of you


Percy is online now  
Oct 19th, 2004, 06:48 PM
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Percy, No, the typhoid vaccine isn't required for travel to Belize. I really don't think it was all that necessary, but I went to the travel clinic in search of anti-malarials, and since I was there, decided to just get the typhoid as well. Next questions is whether or not we should get yellow fever vaccine for our upcoming trip to Panama. Some sources say you should get it for travel in the Darian, where we aren't goin. Other sources say you should be vaccinated for travel to the San Blas Islands, where we will be. Guess I'll go with the travel clinics suggestions (again). They tend to be a very conservative bunch. Jean
JeanH is offline  
Oct 19th, 2004, 06:53 PM
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I do admire you, Percy. You conduct yourself with a great deal of dignity on this board and treat everyone with respect and consideration. Always a gentleman--you set that standard for Fodoring
shillmac is offline  
Oct 20th, 2004, 07:33 AM
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Thank you JeanH for your reply and please let us Fodorites know how you made out with your vaccination for the Panama.

Having been there two years ago, I checked with our local board of health here in Canada and ...I did not need any vaccines ..BUT, I was on a cruise and not travelling into any jungle or rain forest areas.

I agree with you that the Travel Clinic will know if you should have any vaccine.
Good Luck and do lets us know.

You are too kind with your words about me !
But it is YOU,that is so very informative about Costa Rica.

I am sure that everyone on this board appreciates you very much, and your tireless efforts to help anyone you can.

I read all your comments , even though I have not been to some of the places you have mentioned.

When the going gets tough... we turn to shillmac!!

From me and many many other Fodorites a big THANK YOU.

TAke Care everyone


Percy is online now  
Oct 20th, 2004, 09:19 AM
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Posts: 298
There are a few different issues in these posts so I thought I'd add my "dos colones" to the mix. RE: Flu in CR. I've not seen the frenzy here that you have in the states associated w/ the flu for 2004/2005. Not sure why though. Many tourists visit CR and the flu will be spread more readily but as previously posted, you can pick it up on the plane just as easily. Here on the Central Pacific, 99% of the restaurants are "open air", lots of air circulation and NO doors where germs can lay in wait to grab a healthy body! Maybe this helps? RE: Typhoid vac. Personally I don't think it's necessary but if this concern is going to lay "heavy" on your mind, get the vaccine. RE: Hep A. I had the vaccine and 6 mos later the second shot. I'm finding VERY conflicting info. on when to revaccinate. Every information from 5-8 years later to 20 years (uh, that's a pretty big window of time there!) Any thoughts Percy or others?

Lisa in M.A.
Latitude9Lisa is offline  
Oct 20th, 2004, 11:27 AM
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Typically, Hep A requires 2 injections with minimum time between injections being 6 months. Hep B requires 3 injections with 2nd dose being between 1-2 months later, and 3rd being 4-6 months. Bottom line on Hep B, there are varying schedules but there must be at least 4 wks between dose 1 and 2, and 8 wks between 2 and 3; overall 16 wks between doses 1 and 3. For more info, check and click on "adult" rules". Hope this helps.
kthyrn is offline  
Oct 20th, 2004, 12:20 PM
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Latitude9Lisa, At this point in the US, there is no recommendation for a 'booster' injection of Hepatitis A vaccine. The 'powers that be' used to say that the two injections separated by six months would confer life long immunity. Now, however, they are not so sure about that. At this time, a third dose is not recommended, but I'm guessing it's only a matter of time.

Currently we're in the middle of a whooping cough outbreak here in eastern Iowa where I live. The last vaccine currently being given for whooping cough is right before starting kindergarden. By the age of 10 or 12 apparently, the immunity has waned. So, I'm guessing there will soon be a booster dose of that recommended as well. Jean
JeanH is offline  
Oct 21st, 2004, 07:58 AM
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Hi to you all;

Well I just got my first shot of Hep A vaccine a few minutes just kidding about the ouch!

Okay here is some info on this Hepatitis A vaccine.

I just got off the phone ,talking to a Virologist at GlaxoSmithKlein..the makers of the vaccine.

This vaccine comes in an inactivated from, which means it cannot make you sick.
The virus is not killed ,its antigen capability is just inactivated.

Next , the second injection is between 6 to 12 months after the first injection.

The reason for this 6 to 12 month duration is because , all the studies that they have done, showed that whether you took the second dose after 6 months or up to 12 months, your protection was the same....

after this duration the protection started to "wane a little."

After the second dose your protection is to be good for 20 years.

...BUT...the studies were done for 5-7 years only and then the Scientists extrapolated the results.

You all know about extrapolation don't you.!??

Remember those graphs were used to draw when we took Math in High school and we were not sure just how far the line would we took as very accurate value of where it might be...!!

Well, this is what the Scientitist did after 7 years of studies, they extrapolated the duration of protection.

I next asked the Virologist if he has an up to date list of travel places where a Hep A vaccine would be valueable to have.

He said that right now these are the region of where the prevalance of Hep A is this does NOT mean you will get it if you go there ..just that the prevalance is higher:
Middle East
Central America
South America.

Oh yes I do not know what the cost of the Hep A vaccine is in the USA but I paid $40.00 here in Canada.

I see all the people lined up in front of clinics all over the USA, to get their Flu goodness.

Some came to our city..from Montana, Idaho, Utah, etc.
We have lots...don't mind sharing with you people.!!

Take Care

Stay Healthy

Percy is online now  
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