Dengue fever count now 59
|||Maui dengue fever may be ebbing|
|||Special: Dengue fever: health crisis in the making|
By Yasmin Anwar
Advertiser Staff Writer
With one woman in Honolulu and four people on the Windward side among the latest Hawai'i residents confirmed to have dengue fever, the mosquito-borne virus appears to have rooted itself on O'ahu.
Statewide 59 Maui 49 O'ahu 6 Kaua'i 4 Statewide Maui 1 Kaua'i 1 Statewide 262 Includes anyone who complains of two dengue-like symptoms in addition to fever.
(As of noon yesterday)
Hana area 41
Cases tested positive
(preliminary screening) 2
Includes anyone who complains of two dengue-like symptoms in addition to fever.
"There is no question there are areas on O'ahu as well as on Maui and Kaua'i where we have infected mosquitoes," said State Health Director Bruce Anderson.
Nonetheless, Anderson assured that the reach of the disease is nowhere near epidemic proportions. In Tahiti, for example, dengue has spread to an estimated 28,000 people.
Of five new cases confirmed on O'ahu, two reside in La'ie, one in Kane'ohe, one in Kailua and one in Honolulu.
There are also four new confirmed cases in the Hana area of Maui, and two new cases on Kaua'i: one in Hanalei and another in Princeville.
None of the Windward victims have reported travel to dengue hot spots such as East Maui and the South Pacific, according to health officials.
However, Anderson said he's not surprised that O'ahu's Windward side is affected, given the climate and the population.
"It's typically the windward areas where we have the larger mosquito populations," Anderson said. "It may also be there are (others) on that side of the island who are traveling back and forth to Tahiti and other parts of the Pacific to visit relatives or for other reasons."
As for the Honolulu resident, a foreign national whose exact location is being withheld, health officials say they are still trying to determine her travel history.
Gov. Ben Cayetano today is traveling to the Hana area to meet with businesses that have suffered from the dengue outbreak. Of the 59 confirmed cases statewide, 41 are in the Hana area.
The dengue fever outbreak in Hawai'i is believed to have started in June when a Maui resident living in Nahiku carried the virus from Tahiti.
At first, health officials hoped it was contained to East Maui. However, recent results of blood tests returned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dengue fever laboratory in Puerto Rico has established the disease on Kaua'i and O'ahu as well.
The virus is believed to be spread in Hawai'i via the Aedes albopictus mosquito, also known as the Asian tiger mosquito, which bites during the day. The albopictus is all over the Hawaiian Islands, Anderson said.
Dengue victims typically suffer high fever, headaches, muscle and joint pain, and rash. There is no treatment for the disease. A severe case can develop into dengue hemorrhagic fever, which has fatality rate of 5 percent.
The best way to curb the spread of dengue fever is to reduce Hawai'i's mosquito population. So far, vector control crews have sprayed more than 900 areas near suspected cases of dengue fever.
Residents are urged to empty standing water sources around their homes to eradicate mosquito breeding areas. Anderson said he expects the anti-dengue offensive to last at least six months. He said it took 10 years for Hawai'i to control its last dengue outbreak in 1943, which affected 1,500 people but was confined to O'ahu.
"We are going to have to keep at this for months if we expect to get rid of dengue fever in Hawai'i," he said.
Reach Yasmin Anwar at email@example.com or 525-8027.