KEALAKEHE, Hawaii – Kona’s state lawmakers gave an update on the various mosquito-borne illnesses that could threaten Hawaii Island residents, who are only now returning to normalcy following a dengue fever outbreak centered in South Kona. The outbreak is halted, officials say, but not officially over.
While residents are breathing a collective sigh of relief, they also know that as long as the aedes aegypti mosquito remains on Hawaii Island (scientists say it is mostly established in dry areas of West Hawaii, although a complete survey has not been done) the threat of dengue fever or Zika virus will linger.
During a May 10 talk story at the West Hawaii Civil Center, State Representative Nicole Lowen and State Senator Josh Green updated the community on the dengue-related bills that were passed during the 2016 session at the Capitol.
Green said that although he was critical of the state’s response to the outbreak when it was first identified in October 2015, the Department of Health ended up coming out to help the island “in a very serious way”.
Green also talked about how the federal government is stepping up its preparations for the zika virus, which could provide Hawaii with additional resources to counter the aedes mosquito population.
When asked if he thinks the Hawaii Island dengue outbreak is contained, Green – a physician as well as a senator – said “the truth is we are going to have more cases over time of infectious disease,” and that he would actually “be shocked if we don’t have more cases of dengue fever” in the future. The difference this time, Green says, is that we will have a more robust team in place to handle the situation.
Sen. Green said he saw a patient recently that he “had concerns about, but is not positive, as of now.” He also said he is going to continue to ask the Center For Disease Control to come out to visit and assess the risks in Hawaii.
We will be posting more video from this talk story in the coming days.