East Hawaii News

Dengue Fever: 11 Big Island Cases Confirmed

November 3, 2015, 4:51 PM HST
* Updated November 3, 4:53 PM
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Eleven cases of “locally acquired” dengue fever have been confirmed by the Hawai’i Department of Health as of Tuesday afternoon, which includes residents from both sides of the island, as well as visitors.

“It really truly is that the Big Island itself, the entire island, is at risk. We cannot specially point out one location,” Dr. Sarah Park, State Epidemiologist, told Big Island Now Tuesday afternoon. “There is no location or couple of locations that are common to all or even most of the cases.”

Dr. Park says that in the early stages of the Department of Health’s investigation, only a couple of cases were known and patient privacy was necessary.

“It quickly became obvious from the information we were getting, and the more cases that came in, that it’s not a privacy issue at this point,” Dr. Park said.

Cases from both sides of the island have been reported, according to the DOH, and Dr. Park says that although a couple of spots south of Kona, including Hookena and Honaunau, seem to come up more frequently in the cases, they do no correlate across the board, and therefore, are not the pin-pointed areas of where the disease originated.

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“It’s so important to stress to people that just because you’re not in that area does not mean you’re out of the risk zone, from our perspective,” Dr. Park said.

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Two cases, then listed as “potential,” were first reported over a week ago on Monday, Oct. 26. At that point, the infected individuals were reported by a DOH spokesperson as Big Island residents.

On Thursday, Oct. 29, the DOH reported that they were investigating two confirmed cases of dengue fever on the Big Island and four potential cases. Over the weekend, the number rose to ten confirmed cases.

Dr. Park says the cases will continue as long as there are mosquitoes and humans, noting that it is important for the community to do its part in reducing risk by not only limiting exposure to area of highly concentrated mosquitoes, but also by eliminating breeding areas on individual property.

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“Every single person in our community should understand that they have responsibility, they can do something to help stop this outbreak, because this disease perpetuates as long as there’s a mosquito that bites a human,” Dr. Park said. “If people in the community can take measures around their property and businesses to get rid of standing water and take measures to prevent mosquito breeding and protect themselves from being bite and limiting exposure, that’s the only way to beat the breakout.”

The earliest onset of the disease was in early-to-mid September, and the most recent on-set dated back to just last week.

“It’s been going on for quite a long time with cases in between, and we have mosquitoes that can transmit the dengue virus,” Dr. Park said.

On the Big Island, there are two different mosquito types: aedes albopictus, which can be found throughout the state, and aedes aeypti, which are mosquito species notorious for maintaining the dengue virus.

Those affected by dengue fever are likely to begin to have symptoms within a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Fever, joint or muscle pains, headache or pain behind the eyes, and a rash are among the general symptoms of individuals infected.

Individuals experiencing the aforementioned symptoms should contact their healthcare provider and avoid further exposure to mosquitoes.

To learn more about exposure, visit the DOH website.

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