HAWAII – State health officials have confirmed two cases of “locally-acquired” dengue fever on Hawaii Island, and are also investigating four more probable cases. Following several news reports, the Hawaii State Department of Health issued a news release on Thursday, and offered additional tips and information on the mosquito-borne illness.
October 29, 2015
HONOLULU – The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) is investigating two confirmed and four probable cases of dengue fever in Hawaii residents and visitors that was locally-acquired on the Big Island of Hawaii. Further testing and confirmation at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is pending. The department sent out a medical advisory to Hawaii County clinicians earlier today to alert them and urge them to report suspect dengue fever cases.
“Although dengue is not endemic to Hawaii, we do have the mosquito species capable of transmitting the disease,” stated State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “It’s likely an infected traveler infected the local mosquito population, which led to this cluster, so we want the public to be aware of this mosquito-borne disease and the steps they can take to prevent infection.”
“Our local environmental health assessments have not found significant mosquito activity in the affected area,” added Hawaii District Health Officer Aaron Ueno. “As a precautionary measure the department is conducting mosquito prevention activities such as spraying with consent from property owners.”
Symptoms of dengue fever typically begin within a week after a bite by an infected mosquito and can include fever, joint or muscle pains, headache or pain behind the eyes, and rash. Persons who have the above symptoms should contact their healthcare provider and avoid further exposure to mosquitoes, which is also the best means of prevention.
Dengue virus is most often transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Travelers to areas with infected mosquitoes where dengue fever is endemic are at the highest risk of acquiring the disease. Mosquitoes breed in areas of standing water (such as planters, old tires and pet water bowls). Use mosquito repellents containing 20–30 percent DEET and wear long sleeves and pants in areas where mosquito-borne disease is a concern.
What is dengue fever?
Dengue fever is a viral illness spread by mosquitoes. The disease occurs mainly in tropical Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and the South Pacific. It is most common during the rainy season in areas infested with infected mosquitoes. Sometimes, persons arriving from other countries may enter the United States with dengue fever and infect local mosquitoes, as happened in Hawaii in 2001.
How do you get it?
The dengue virus is spread through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. Dengue is not spread directly from one person to another.
What are the symptoms of dengue fever?
The symptoms of dengue fever include sudden onset of fever, severe headaches, eye, joint, and muscle pain, and rash. The rash typically appears on the hands, arms, legs and feet 3 to 4 days after the fever begins. Minor bleeding problems can also occur. The symptoms usually go away completely within 1 to 2 weeks. Sometimes, people with dengue fever have blood clotting problems. When this happens, the illness is called dengue hemorrhagic fever. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a very serious illness with abnormal bleeding and very low blood pressure (shock).
When do symptoms start?
The symptoms usually start 5 to 6 days after being bitten by infected mosquitoes, but the onset can range from 2 to 15 days.
What is the treatment for dengue fever?
There is no specific treatment for dengue fever. Bed rest and acetaminophen (Tylenol) to treat fever and pain are recommended. Aspirin and NSAIDS (ibuprofen, naproxen) are not recommended as they can make bleeding problems worse. There is currently no vaccine for dengue fever.
If you get dengue fever once, can you get it again?
Yes. There are four major types of dengue viruses. Having dengue fever with one type of dengue virus will not protect you from the other three types.
How can you keep from getting it?
When traveling to areas that have dengue fever, try to avoid exposure to mosquitoes. Aedes mosquitoes are usually most active in the early morning hours after daybreak, in the late afternoon before dark, and any time during the day when indoors or in shady areas.
Use mosquito netting over beds, and screens on windows and doorways.
Use mosquito repellents and wear appropriate clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants that reduce exposure to mosquito bites.
Mosquitoes are drawn to dark colors; so if possible, wear white or light colored clothing when you are likely to be exposed to biting mosquitoes.