Dengue outbreak in Hawaii grows

Hawaii is currently seeing a locally-acquired outbreak of Dengue fever. Hawaii hasn’t seen a case of Dengue fever since 2011 when four people were infected on Oahu, also with a locally-acquired strain. Dengue fever is not native to Hawaii but it intermittently imported to Hawaii via infected travelers from endemic areas, which is what happened in 2011 and the previous outbreak in 2001.

Dengue fever is a viral illness spread by certain species of mosquitoes. Hawaii has the types of mosquitoes that can transmit Dengue so once an infected traveler arrives a mosquito just needs to bite that person, pick up the virus in the blood, and then bite someone else to transmit the virus. The mosquitoes that can transmit Dengue are quite widespread throughout the world.

Mosquito map small.jpg

This map shows where the model predicts that Ae. aegypti (top) and Ae. albopictus (bottom) are more likely to be found (the redder the area, the more mosquitoes). Each black dot represents a place where mosquitoes have been recorded. – See more at: http://www.scidev.net/global/disease/news/mosquito-data-map-spread-disease-dengue.htm

The current outbreak is occurring on the Big Island and is up to 107 confirmed cases as of November 27. Of the confirmed cases 93 are locals and 14 are tourists. To combat the two species of Aedes mosquitoes (Aedes aeqypti and Aedes albopictus) that are transmitting the Dengue fever, Hawaiian Department of Health officials plan to start a targeted vector control program in the areas where cases have been confirmed.

2015-11-25dengueMAP

Map from Hawaii Department of Health

The CDC recommends that travelers not cancel their Hawaii travel plans due to the current Dengue fever outbreak. While this outbreak may seem large to many people, especially in an area where Dengue fever is not endemic, the number of cases is not as large as is commonly found in many other tropical vacation destinations. The recommendations to prevent Dengue fever are the same as preventing any mosquito bite: wear long sleeves and pants, use mosquito repellent, avoid spending lots of time in areas where there are mosquitoes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *