HAWAII ISLAND – The number of locally-acquired cases of dengue fever on Hawaii Island jumped to 88 on Friday, while lawmakers put health officials on the spot for their response to the mosquito-borne outbreak during an informational briefing at the state capitol.
Virginia Pressler, M.D., the director of the Hawaii State Department of Health and Dr. Sarah Park, the Hawaii State Epidemiologist and Chief of the DOH Disease Outbreak Control Division, answered questions about the dengue outbreak while facing a number of elected state senators and representatives. Many of the lawmakers were from Hawaii Island; Hilo Senator Gil Kahele, Puna Senator Russell Ruderman, and Kona Senator Josh Green, as well as State Representatives Richard Creagan and Nicole Lowen. Civil Defense chief Darryl Oliveira joined in by telephone.
Rep. Lowen and Sen. Green repeatedly asked why officials were not going to conduct preventive spraying around the Kealakehe school campus this weekend, now that the high risk zone associated with South Kona has been extended north to include Kailua Village and parts of North Kona. The full list of schools that will be treated this weekend are listed in the civil defense message below. Senator Green had heated words with Dr. Sarah Park about the approach.
Senator Ruderman and Rep. Creagan wanted to know why the health department was not making more of an effort to deploy the laboratory assets needed to conduct testing for dengue on Hawaii Island, rather than using the lab on Oahu, which comes with more of a delay in obtaining results. Health officials said its not technically possible to bring those capabilities to the Big Island.
Ruderman also insisted on knowing if the Health Department had asked the Center For Disease Control and Prevention for assistance. Park and Pressler said they have been in contact with the CDC since the outbreak was first identified.
Of the 88 confirmed cases, 75 are Hawaii residents and 13 are visitors. 67 cases have been adults; twenty-one have been children. The onset of illness has ranged between Sept. 11 through Nov. 15, 2015.
Dengue Fever information Update
The State Department of Health continues to work with other state and county agencies on the issue of the Dengue Fever outbreak. As of 10:30 today the Department of Health has reported 88 confirmed cases originating on Hawaii Island. These cases include 75 residents and 13 visitors.
Dengue fever is a virus that is transmitted or spread by infected mosquitoes and not directly from person to person. Dengue Fever is not endemic or common to Hawaii. It was likely introduced by a person who contracted the virus in another area of the world and became infectious while in Hawaii.
Because dengue fever is only transmitted by mosquitoes, the Department of Health is spraying and treating areas with high mosquito presence and confirmed cases. The Department of Health may be conducting spraying at various locations in the Kona, Hilo, Puna and Kau areas today. In addition, the Department of Health with support from the County of Hawaii and the Department of Education will be conducting preventive spraying or treating of areas around the following school campuses this weekend:
– Konawaena High, Middle and Elementary Schools
– Honaunau School
– Hookena School
– Hilo High School
– Hilo Intermediate School
– Waiakea Intermediate and Elementary Schools
Again, these school campuses are being treated as a preventative measure and based on proximity to confirmed cases in the area. There are no cases directly related to any of the school facilities or campuses. In addition, the spraying activities will be conducted around planned and scheduled activities at the campuses and no programs or activities at the schools have been cancelled.
Although spraying and treatment of areas is ongoing, the most effective method to reduce the spread and eliminate Dengue is to fight the bite. Minimize or prevent the possibility of being bitten by an infected mosquito by wearing clothing that minimizes exposed skin, use mosquito repellant and avoid activities in areas of high mosquito concentration during the early morning and late afternoon periods when mosquito activity is greatest.
In addition, persons feeling ill and having a fever should remain indoors to prevent the possibility of being bitten and infecting mosquitoes.
For additional information on Dengue Fever and preventing the spread of Dengue Fever, go to health.hawaii.gov or call the Department of Health at 974-6001., Everyone’s help and assistance with this outbreak is much needed and appreciated.