Created by PAHO/WHO and the Ministry of Health of Costa Rica, the game aims at increasing awareness on dengue and other vector-borne diseases, in addition to promoting community actions to keep the environment free of breeding sites

Costa Rica, 26 July 2013 (PAHO/WHO) - The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and the Ministry of Health of Costa Rica created "Pueblo Pitanga: Enemigos Silenciosos" ("Pitanga Town: Silent Enemies"), a computer game that teaches children and youth about dengue and the importance of eliminating the breeding sites of mosquitoes that transmit the disease.

"With this initiative we are seeking to use technology and entertainment to educate," explained Jorge Prosperi, PAHO/WHO Representative in Costa Rica. He added, "Kids are major agents of change and can help eliminate the mosquitoes' breeding sites, the most important factor in control and prevention of dengue." The Ministry of Education plans to use "Pitanga Town" with students from around the country.

The animated video game teaches users about community hygiene and its effect on control and prevention of vector-borne diseases (dengue, malaria, diarrhea, and leptospirosis).

The game's main character is Fabio, a child who roams through Pitanga Town to find the cause of a mysterious disease that struck his sister Luisa and sent her to the hospital. During his search, many others begin to get sick and some present different symptoms from Luisa's. Little by little Fabio and his friends figure out what the different diseases are, how to prevent them, and the problems caused by poor sanitation.

The video game was presented as part of the campaign "Costa Rica es pura vida sin el mosquito transmisor del dengue" ("Costa Rica is great without the mosquito that transmits dengue"). The initiative provides information to people on keeping their houses, schools, and community environments free from flowerpots and containers that can collect water and thus facilitate reproduction of the vector.

Dengue poses a major public health problem in the Americas. The disease is transmitted when a person is stung by the mosquito Aedes aegypti. The mosquitoes use standing water in containers as breeding sites.

Control/prevention of the disease requires a multisectoral and interinstitutional approach involving local governments, public and private institutions, and the community-the main protagonist for eliminating breeding sites in dwellings.