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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, October 19, 2001

Dengue outbreak in East Maui may be waning

City to clear illegal dump in Kamilonui Valley
 •  Special: Dengue fever: health crisis in the making

By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Maui County Bureau

HANA, Maui — Health officials said yesterday it appears the dengue fever outbreak in East Maui is waning.

Biologist Manuel Amador and Gov. Ben Cayetano look for mosquito larvae in Hamoa, Maui.

Timothy Hurley • The Honolulu Advertiser

"I think it's close to the end. We hope so — at least in this area," said Manuel Amador, a biologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

State Health Director Bruce Anderson said the "terrific news'' for Hana is that no new cases have been reported here in the past five days.

What's more, the area has experienced a significant drop in the number of mosquitoes after extensive insecticide spraying and other control efforts, Amador said.

There have been 59 confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne disease in Hawai'i — 41 of them from the East Maui area. The rest have been confirmed on Kaua'i and O'ahu.

Gov. Ben Cayetano, who visited Hana yesterday and met with residents and business owners who have seen the remote area's already fragile economy suffer from the dengue fever outbreak.

The Hotel Hana-Maui this week announced layoffs of 30 employees, or about 25 percent of its work force.

Many other businesses report a sharp decline in tourist visits because of fears of dengue fever, a problem that piggybacked the business downturn following the Sept. 11 East Coast terror attacks.

Cayetano, speaking at a gathering of business leaders at the hotel's Plantation House, offered solace as well as small business loans and potential business tax breaks.

"Even though this is a remote place, those of us in Honolulu have not forgotten you," he said.

The governor was accompanied by Anderson, state epidemiologist Dr. Paul Effler, Maui Mayor James "Kimo'' Apana and state Sen. J. Kalani English, D-5th (Wailuku, Kahului, Upcountry).

English, who disclosed this week that he contracted the disease while working at his late grandmother's house in Hamoa, said he would introduce legislation in the upcoming special session to establish a civilian work force to combat the dengue fever outbreak.

The proposed $1.5 million program, patterned after the Civilian Conservation Corps established during the Great Depression, would create jobs and provide the manpower to battle other environmental problems such as miconia and coqui frogs.

Hana Business Council board member Sandi Simoni called yesterday "an uplifting day.''

"At least we're being recognized,'' said Simoni, who manages a Hamoa vacation rental that has experienced a number of recent cancellations.

Duane Smith of the Hale Hulu Mamo senior citizens center also praised Cayetano for coming to Hana. He said the news coverage of the governor's visit will send a message that Hana is safe to visit.