The outbreak of Dengue fever in Hawaii is very real. Yesterday Hawaii Island declared a state of emergency with a known 250 confirmed cases in the past four months, making this the largest outbreak in 70 years. The Hawaii Department of Health indicated that those infected have included 227 Hawaii Island residents and 24 visitors. While not endemic to Hawaii Dengue fever is a virus transmitted by infected mosquitoes that was imported by infected travelers.
Things to know about Dengue Fever in Hawaii
- The outbreak of Dengue is limited primarily to the Kona side of the Big Island. (See map). Only the Big Island is impacted.
- With proper protection there is no reason to avoid travel to the Big Island.
- Symptoms of Dengue are a rapid onset fever, as well as sever, headache, joint and eye pain, plus rashes. Symptoms are normally self-resolving in one to two weeks. On the other hand it can rarely develop into deadly dengue hemorrhagic fever.
- While we await completion of a dengue fever vaccine (six are in various states of development), prevention is today’s only remedy available. That may be true for several years.
- And that gets down to avoiding mosquito bites.
How to Avoid Mosquito Bites That Can Cause Dengue Fever
- Use caution when mosquitos are most prevalent. That is before sunset or right after sunrise and at all times where shade or fresh water prevail.
- Only stay in well screened or air conditioned accommodations when visiting.
- Consider spraying the room either naturally or chemically, then leaving for some time if you suspect mosquitoes.
- Wear clothing that is protective. That includes long pants, socks and long sleeve shirt. Occasionally (though we’ve not seen this) bites can occur through clothing. You can treat clothes with repellent for added protection.
- Use a mosquito repellent. Either natural containing oil of eucalyptus or not containing picaridin or DEET. Bring your own repellent with you to Hawaii in case of a shortage of your preferred type. When using both sunscreen and mosquito repellent, apply repellent last.
- The CDC recommends repellents containing DEET (Off!, Cutter, Sawyer, and Ultrathon), Picaridin (Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus), Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD (Repel and Off! Botanicals) and IR3535 (Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart).
Shout out to Beat of Hawaii reader Gary C. for asking us to report on Dengue Fever in Hawaii. Beat of Hawaii photo taken at Kona on the Big Island.