East Hawaii News

Dengue Fever: DOH Launches ‘Fight the Bite’ Campaign

November 9, 2015, 4:11 PM HST
* Updated November 10, 1:22 PM
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As the Big Island combats against the dengue fever virus that has infected 27 individuals, as of Monday afternoon, a new campaign has been announced to cultivate community awareness.

Individuals infected while on the Big Island have reportedly been in the following areas, based on a new map released by the Hawai’i Department of Health: Hawi, Waimea, Hilo, Pahoa, Volcano, Naalehu, Captain Cook, and along the Kohala Coast. Twenty-three individuals with confirmed cases of dengue reportedly visited the Captain Cook area, while 12 visited areas along the Kohala Coast.

DOH announced “Fight the Bite,” an educational campaign to inform the public about dengue fever, at a County of Hawai’i partnered press conference at Yano Hall in Kailua-Kona Monday afternoon.

“The health and safety of our community and visitors is paramount, and the Department of Health is working collaboratively with all of our partners – including fellow state agencies, the Counties, healthcare providers, business leaders, nonprofit service providers, and more to address this important situation and end the spread of dengue fever in Hawai’i as quickly as possible,” said DOH director Virginia Pressler. “In order to keep Hawai’i safe and dengue-free, we are asking the community for their help in following the easy tips and suggestions shared through our campaign and joining us as together we Fight the Bite!”

DOH officials say the campaign will kick off this week with the hope of encouraging residents and visitors alike to help in preventing the spread of the virus in Hawai’i.

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During the press conference, Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi noted the community meetings that are planned throughout the week, which will provide the community an opportunity to learn more about the “Fight the Bite” campaign and engage with county and state officials.

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“The County of Hawai’i has been working closely with the State Department of Health to respond quickly and efficiently to the cases of dengue fever in Hawai’,i and we are dedicated to minimizing its impacts on Hawai’i Island and the state,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “We encourage the public to take part in the ‘Fight the Bite’ campaign and to start doing so by joining us at our community meetings, which will provide opportunities to ask questions and learn more about this important initiative.”

The DOH recommends that the public apply mosquito repellent containing 20 to 30 percent DEET, wear long sleeved shirts and pants, use indoor insecticides, and reduce the amount of mosquitoes by eliminated standing water around their property.

Dengue fever is spread through contact with a mosquito carrying the illness from someone who is infected, and is spread from one person to another through mosquito bites.

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Individuals who have traveled to areas with infected mosquitoes where dengue fever is endemic are at a high risk of getting the disease.

Symptoms of dengue include fever, joint or muscle paints, headache or pain behind the eyes, and rash.

All public informational meetings will begin at 6 p.m. and are scheduled as follows:

Monday, Nov. 9 at Yano Hall in Captain Cook

Tuesday, Nov. 10 at Na’alehu Community Center

Thursday, Nov. 12 at the Konawaena High School cafeteria

Friday, Nov. 13 at the Honoka’a High School cafeteria

Monday, Nov. 16 at the Hilo High School cafeteria

Tuesday, Nov. 17 at the Kea’au High School cafeteria.

Anyone who thinks they may have contracted dengue fever should call DOH’s Disease Investigation Branch at (808) 586-8362 or contact their primary care physician.

For more information, visit the DOH website.

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