East Hawaii News

Four Cases of Mosquito Borne Viruses Under Investigation on Oahu

March 26, 2016, 3:52 PM HST
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zika PIXABAY mosquitoFour cases of travel related mosquito borne viruses on Oahu are being investigated. These cases are not related to the current outbeak on the Big Island.

The cases include an individual who traveled to Latin America and returned to the state ill.

According to the Hawai’i Department of Health, that individual is being tested for both the dengue and zika virus.

During a press conference Saturday afternnon, DOH Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler said that the case underwent initial lab tests by the State Laboratories Division, however, the tests for two viruses can counter-interact, creating inconclusive results. Because of that, lab samples are being sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further testing.

In addition to that case, DOH says three individuals are being tested for dengue fever and chikungunya. Those individuals have a history of travel to the Pacific Islands and Latin America.

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One individual may have been infectious upon returning to the state, however, they are all no longer infectious, according to Dr. Pressler.

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Dr. Pressler emphasized during the press conference that the cases are not locally acquired and are also not related to the Big Island dengue fever outbreak.

“The dengue fever outbreak on Hawai’i Island remains isolated to Hawai’i Island and we have only had a few cases over the past couple months,” Dr. Pressler said.

DOH first learned of the most recent Oahu case on Thursday, but were waiting for the correct time to alert the public.

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DOH Vector Control teams on Oahu are investigating the four cases and taking measures to spray and assess residenal and other areas in urban Honolulu and North Shore.

Vector Control personnel on Oahu are sparse with the majority of the state’s Vector Control resources on the Big Island, aiding in the island’s dengue fever outbreak.

Dr. Pressler said in a two-week span, eight new Vector Control personnel will be on the Big Island. With new personnel on the Big Island, current resoures belonging to other locatons in the state will be able to return to their respective islands.

Dengue fever, Zika, and chikungunya are all mosquito borne viruses that are spread when a sick person is bitten by a mosquito, which later bites another person.

Evidence suggests that Zika can also be transmitted through unprotected sexual contact with someone who has been infected. The best way to prevent all these viruses is to take mosquito control measures and to avoid getting bitten. Some who carry Zika do not show symptoms, and in others, illness may last from several days to over a week. There is currently no cure for these viruses.

Next Friday, Dr. Pressler and other DOH personel will travel to CDC headquarters to participate in a Zika summit, where they wil complete a comprehensive approach with CDC assistance for potential future outbreaks of Zika in the islands.

“The department expects to see more of these travel related cases as outbreaks of all these diseases continue in other countries,” said Dr. Pressler. “The department is working closely with the counties and taking precautionary measures to respond to all suspected and confirmed cases. We ask for the public’s help in reducing mosquito breeding areas around homes and workplaces and preventing mosquito bites by using repellant or protective clothing.”

Anyone who has traveled outside the country and has mild to severe symptoms such as fever, joint pain, rash, or red/pink eyes within 2 weeks after returning from travel should see their healthcare provider.

As of Friday, there had been 263 cases of dengue fever on the Big Island since the dengue outbreak began in September 2015.

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