Tourism chief says measures adequate
|||State preparing response to dengue fever outbreak|
|||Q&A: Dengue fever|
|||Special report: Dengue fever: health crisis in the making|
By Johnny Brannon
Advertiser Staff Writer
Hawai'i's top tourism official said the state's dengue fever outbreak could not have come at a worse time, but he is confident it is being handled properly.
"We need to let people know the reality of what they're up against, the good and the bad," Hawai'i Tourism Authority chief executive officer Bob Fishman said. "Our concern is that we don't start a rumor that grows and feeds on itself overseas. We do not have an epidemic. We do not have an out-of-control situation."
Twenty-six dengue cases have been confirmed on Maui by the Centers for Disease Control. About 100 more suspected cases have been reported in the state.
Fishman said there was no evidence that the outbreak has harmed the state's tourism industry, which fell into a severe slump following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The disease has not appeared in major tourist areas and should therefore not deter visitors, he said.
"It's unfair to say we have a problem that should scare anyone away," said Fishman, who met with top state health officials Thursday. "On the contrary, people I've spoken to are confident we have the ability to deal with this problem. If our people did nothing, we would have reason to be concerned, but that is not what's going on."
Health officials have sprayed insecticide around the homes of people who contracted the disease. They are also urging residents to clear their yards of stagnant water, the prime breeding ground for mosquitoes.
"I'm very impressed with the way everybody's moved into action," Fishman said. "I think we should take great confidence that we're able to move quickly without upsetting everybody. If it's kept in perspective, I think we'll be fine."