East Hawaii News

Dengue: First Case in Two Weeks Confirmed, Miloli’i Will Reopen

March 10, 2016, 12:34 PM HST
* Updated March 11, 1:56 PM
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Miloli'i Beach Park closed on Dec. 23 as dengue fever cases were associated with the area. File courtesy photo.

Miloli’i Beach Park closed on Dec. 23 as dengue fever cases were associated with the area. File courtesy photo.

One new case of dengue fever has been confirmed on the Big Island.

Hawai’i County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira said late Thursday morning that the case was confirmed within a Big Island resident, bringing the total case count to 261.

This is the first case confirmed since Feb. 24. Wednesday marked a two-week period with no new infections.

“This new confirmed case helps to remind everyone that as previously stated, this outbreak remains active and is not anticipated to be considered over anytime in the near future,” Oliveira said in a radio message. “Therefore, we are asking for everyone’s help to continue to Fight the Bite.”

Despite the new case, Miloli’i Beach Park is on course to reopen to the public. The park has been closed since Wednesday, Dec. 23.

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Oliveira noted that no confirmed cases have been associated within Miloli’i Beach Park and the Miloli’i Village community area since Jan. 20. Efforts that included numerous spraying and treatment activities have taken place over the course of the closure, and the area will reopen under normal use on Friday, March 11.

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“The same response work conducted during the height of the outbreak is continuing,” said Keith Kawaoka, deputy director of Environmental Health. “We haven’t let up on our response efforts, even with the slowdown in cases. The department is recruiting eight additional vector control positions on Hawai’i Island to increase and sustain effective mosquito abatement work.”

In total, the outbreak on the Big Island has infected 236 Big Island residents and 25 island visitors since September.

“We have been cautiously optimistic about the slowdown of cases over the last few weeks,” said Oliveira, who is Incident Commander of the Big Island’s dengue response. “Our plan has always been to continue to be vigilant and maintain our efforts to work with the community to protect our residents and visitors through education, outreach, and mosquito abatement.”

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On Wednesday, the Hawai’i Department of Health noted that despite the lack of confirmed cases, the threat of dengue remained.

A notice on the state’s dengue information website read:

“Infectious mosquitoes may still be present, even if no cases remain infectious to mosquitoes. ‘Fight the bite’ preventative measures remain crucial throughout the Big Island.”

Oliveira added Thursday that “we continue to remind people who believe they may be ill with dengue fever to come forward and get tested. With every outbreak, there is a degree of under-reporting, so it’s important that people report their illness to allow the Department of Health to respond quickly.”

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

“It is crucial for our community, residents and visitors alike, to remain alert and diligent in our efforts to prevent mosquito bites and reduce mosquito breeding areas,” said Kawaoka. “The fight against mosquitoes is far from over. Even as this outbreak is winding down, we need to continue working together to fight the bite.”

Those interested in obtaining general information about the current Big Island dengue fever investigation should call 2-1-1 and talk with Aloha United Way.

Anyone who thinks they may have contracted dengue fever on the Big Island should call 933-0912 if they are located in East Hawai‘i or 322-4877 in West Hawai‘i. If an individual is currently ill and concerned that they may have contracted dengue fever, they should contact their primary care physician.

Civil Defense suggests the following to aid in reducing potential mosquito breeding areas around homes and businesses:

Remove or eliminate standing water that provides sources for mosquito breeding such as buckets or puddles.

  • Fix leaky faucets and outdoor hoses that are dripping water.
  • Treat bromeliads and other plants that hold water with a larvacide or chlorine bleach solution.
  • Clean gutters to allow water to drain freely.
  • Repair screens and windows to help keep mosquitoes out.
  • Dispose of old tires at no charge at county transfer stations islandwide.

Mosquito concerns should be reported to 974-6010 in East Hawai‘i or 322-1513 in West Hawai‘i.

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