While the Caribbean continues to battle with an epidemic spread of Chikungunya—a mosquito-born virus that causes debilitating aches, joint pains and fever, the Big Island of Hawaii is waging its own war against the pesky insects. According to eturbonews today, Nov. 20, and other online sources, Dengue fever has hit the island. If you hadn’t heard a word about this it’s because Hawaii travel and tourism authorities and local media are keeping pretty mum about it. So far there have been 79 cases of the virus reported on the Big Island of Hawaii since September 1, 2015 and mostly on locals. Authorities warn that the number of infected people could grow in the next few days or even months. Like Chikungunya, Dengue fever is a painful, debilitating mosquito-borne disease caused by any one of four closely-related dengue viruses. These viruses are related to the viruses that cause West Nile infection and yellow fever. About 390 dengue infections occur worldwide each year, with about 96 million resulting in illness. Most cases occur in tropical areas of the world, with the greatest risk occurring in:
Hawaii Governor David Ige held a press conference that characterized the state’s support role by saying, “We are redeploying and mobilizing resources that we have available.” So far only the Big Island has been affected. State and county officials are working to prevent the spread of infections by closing beaches in infected areas and spraying insecticides in nearby schools. Local authorities have also launched a “Fight the Bite” campaign to spread awareness about the outbreak and help residents and visitors avoid infection by using insect repellent and eliminating stagnant water.
The best way to prevent catching the fever is by using lots of potent bug-off-like sprays and keeping windows and doors closed so mosquitoes can’t get in. There have been reports that people on the Big Island are “confused about the risk, confused about what they should do and they’ve been struggling with finding doctors to see them. Symptoms, which typically begin within a week of being bitten by an infected mosquito, can include rashes, fever, joint or muscle pains, headache or pain behind the eyes. There is no specific medication for treatment of dengue fever besides rest, hydration and acetaminophen painkillers.
Hawaii last suffered from a dengue fever outbreak 2011 when four people on Oahu contracted the illness. The largest outbreak was in 2001, when 122 cases were confirmed after an outbreak started in Maui. Naturally hotels and resorts are taking many precautions to keep guests safe but again that doesn’t mean you don’t need to lather your body with an insect repellent. Also do not and we emphasize do not wear fragrances of any kind of your body as that attracts mosquitoes as does bright, colorful clothing. Meanwhile we found a video of an outbreak of Dengue fever and Chikungunya in San Diego, too.