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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, December 14, 2001

Health & Safety Watch

Here's some information that can help you navigate the labyrinth of information and sometimes conflicting reports circulating about everything from dengue fever in Hawai'i to opening your mail in times of bioterrorism threats.

If you have other questions, e-mail us at hawaii@honoluluadvertiser.com or write us at Honolulu Advertiser Q&A, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802, and we'll do our best to help.

Public safety

Security remains high across Hawai'i, particularly at airports and government facilities. Some public facilities also have special security measures in effect.

Blaisdell Center, Waikiki Shell: Backpacks, briefcases, handbags or other personal containers larger than a clutch purse are not allowed. All personal bags will be subject to search when entering either location. Coolers 18 inches or longer, and umbrellas are not allowed in the Waikiki Shell.

Aloha Stadium: Handbags and purses have joined the list of banned items at stadium events. Other banned items include backpacks, fireworks, umbrellas, weapons, noise-makers and outside food or beverages.

Military bases: Expect long lines and tight security at the state's military facilities as they remain on a higher state of alert.

What can I do?

• The Honolulu Police Department has set up a special telephone number to take calls from anyone who has information on acts of terrorism: CALLHPD (225-5473). O'ahu and Neighbor Island residents also can call the FBI at 566-4300.

• On all islands, call 911 for emergencies or to report suspicious activity.

• For all other questions about O'ahu city services: 523-CITY


The mail

Though the U.S. postal system has been used to send anthrax spores, the chance of contracting anthrax in that way is considered very slim. It is believed that relatively few anthrax spores may cause infection for some people with immune systems compromised by age or illness. The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that senior citizens wear gloves, wash their hands or take other steps to avoid potential contamination. Other people with weakened immune systems, such as people with HIV or organ transplant recipients, are also advised to take precautions when handling mail.

In general, do not worry about junk mail, bills or cards from friends and relatives.

If you receive something unfamiliar, look carefully to see whether it has stains, feels like it may include powder, has a different postmark address than the return address, or protruding wires or other elements. If you think the package is suspicious, be calm. Put it down. Do not shake it. Do not clean up powders or fluids. Put it in a plastic bag or envelope, or cover it with a towel or cloth. Wash your hands with soap and water. Call 911. If you're at work also notify your building security or your supervisor. Take note of who else is in the room with you. Shower with soap and water as soon as possible. Do not use bleach or disinfectant on your skin.

More information:




Security remains high at all U.S. airports. In Hawai'i, vehicles are being searched at Honolulu Airport, and air travelers can expect longer waits due to more ID and general security checks.

Drivers may drop off and pick up passengers curbside but may not linger or leave the vehicle.

Curbside check-in may be available, depending on the airline you are using. Check with your airline. Note that airlines doing curbside check-in may not be doing it at all airports.

Only ticketed passengers may go beyond the security checkpoint.

What you should do:

• Arrive at least three hours before international and domestic flights. Interisland passengers should check in at least 90 minutes prior to departure.

• Reconfirm your flight time with your airline and ask what time they recommend you arrive.

• Limit carry-ons. New Federal Aviation Administration rules restrict passengers to one piece in addition to a purse or briefcase.

• Do not carry sharp instruments (letter openers, knives, scissors, etc.) in carry-on luggage. They will be confiscated.

More information:


Public health

What is dengue fever?

Dengue fever is an acute mosquito-borne febrile disease caused by a virus. It spreads when a mosquito bites an infected person and passes along the virus when it bites someone else. People cannot infect other people.

Dengue update: 93 confirmed cases have been reported in Hawai'i. By island, the numbers stand at 68 on Maui, 21 on O'ahu, 4 on Kaua'i.

How do I know if I have dengue fever?

Dengue causes a sudden high fever, severe head and body aches, nausea and vomiting, and rash on the hands and feet. Symptoms may last for 10 days, but complete recovery can take up to four weeks. In rare cases, dengue can cause fainting, shock and internal bleeding. It is rarely fatal.

If you have dengue symptoms, call your doctor and the Department of Health.

What can I do? Wear closed shoes with socks, long trousers and long-sleeved shirts to avoid bites, repair screens to keep mosquitoes out and eliminate stagnant water in any containers left outside to eliminate mosquito breeding areas.