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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Another tourist hit with Hawai'i dengue

Advertiser Staff

Public health officials have confirmed a second incident where dengue fever was caught by a visitor to Hawai'i.

The New Mexico resident contracted the mosquito-borne virus in December after spending two nights in Hana during the height of the outbreak.

Despite concern about the possibility of tourists picking up the disease, this is only the second confirmed incident. Four people from a Texas family who visited Hana contracted the disease in July and August. They had stayed for a couple of weeks in Hana, health officials said.

There are no indications that the disease has been transmitted on the Mainland as a result of those cases, a Health Department spokeswoman said.

It has been six weeks since anyone in Hawai'i has contracted the disease, but health officials remain vigilant. While the number of cases continues to tail off, experts warn that the outbreak could flare up because Hawai'i is vulnerable to cases from other countries experiencing epidemics of the disease.

The key, they say, is reducing the mosquito population. The Health Department is conducting a statewide mosquito survey so it can better manage its eradication efforts. It also is continuing to urge residents to check around their homes and remove any standing water, which is where mosquitoes lay their eggs.

There have been 118 confirmed cases since the outbreak began in October, far below the 1,500 people who became ill in a 1943 outbreak. There are 89 confirmed cases on Maui, 25 on O'ahu and four on Kaua'i.