Hawaii Mayor Declares State of Emergency for Dengue Outbreak

A cluster of locally-acquired dengue cases in Hawaii has led to a state of emergency.

A cluster of locally-acquired dengue cases in Hawaii has led to a state of emergency.

“A state of emergency for Hawaii County is authorized in order to prevent the continued spread of this outbreak and to eliminate the dengue fever virus from Hawaii Island,” Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi said in a proclamation on February 8.

Dengue is transmitted to humans through Aedes aegypti mosquito bite — the same mosquito species that’s connected to the current Zika virus outbreak. In 2001, a dengue outbreak on Oahu was primarily transmitted by Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. There is no word on which species is associated with the current state of emergency.

There were 249 confirmed cases of dengue in Hawaii from September 11, 2015 to January 28, 2016. Those patients are no longer infectious; however, as of February 8 there are two more confirmed cases. Out of the 251 total cases since September, 227 were Hawaii residents and 24 were visitors — 206 adults and 45 children under the age of 18.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) alerted the dengue outbreak and provided tips for travelers to reduce their risk of infection.

There are four closely related dengue viruses (DENV 1, DENV 2, DENV 3, and DENV 4). Common symptoms include high fever, severe headache, severe pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle and bone pain, rash, and mild bleeding, such as in the nose or gums.

Just like Zika, there is no preventive vaccine or specific treatment for the dengue viruses. Patients diagnosed with the illness are advised to take pain relievers, drink plenty of fluids, and consult their doctor immediately if serious symptoms occur, like vomiting and severe abdominal pain.

The more severe form of the infection, dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), can have fatal results if not treated properly. It is caused by the same viruses but can be dropped to 1% mortality with sufficient treatment.

Officials are taking steps to control the mosquito population and transmission.

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