HO‘OKENA, Hawaii – Life is returning to normal at Ho‘okena in South Kona. The popular beach park is bustling with activity again, after it was suddenly closed on November 4, 2015 in the early days of a dengue fever outbreak on the Big Island. At the time, Ho‘okena was identified as a hotspot for acquiring the disease from infected mosquitoes. The government-mandated closure remained in place until March 1st.
Visionary Video recently interviewed Dan Abaya at the reopened beach park. As a part of the non-profit Friends of Ho‘okena Beach Park – an outgrowth of Kama‘aina United to Protect the ‘Aina , or KUPA – Abaya patrols the beach, serves as a camp host, and helps runs the concession.
Abaya was one of the first to notice a spreading illness at Ho‘okena. He said visitors were already sick as early as July. He himself eventually fell victim to dengue fever in September.
As Abaya points out in the video, there have been some changes at Ho‘okena. There is now less vegetation surrounding the shore. Many of the weeds that can harbor mosquitoes have been removed. The cliff side appears bare in comparison to the days before the closure.
The beach park will still be closed periodically so that vector control crews can conduct routine mosquito spraying and treatment. Officials say its a precautionary measure. Hawaii County Civil Defense says there have been no confirmed cases associated with the beach park since November.
There is still some work to be done, Abaya admits. One area of concern is the numerous fishing canoes resting on old tires by the ocean. Tires are known breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Abaya says he hope the county can provide some materials to replace tire stands if they are to be removed.