On Thursday, October 29th, Hawaii state officials announced two confirmed and four probable cases of locally acquired dengue fever in residents of the Big Island . The specific locations of the cases have not been released, as the investigation continues . Locally acquired cases of dengue are rare in Hawaii. An outbreak in 2001 was the first to occur since World War II .
While dengue is not endemic to the state, the mosquitoes that transmit the disease, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, are present. That means that if an infected traveler were to infect the local mosquito population an outbreak could result. According to Hawaii State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park, “It’s likely an infected traveler infected the local mosquito population, which led to this cluster .”
Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral illness that is not spread directly from person-to-person. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, eye, joint, and muscle pain, minor bleeding, and a rash on the hands, arms, legs, and feet. There is currently no specific treatment for the infection, and no vaccine, making preventive measures particularly important [5,6].
The disease has previously been able to be contained through aggressive mosquito control efforts. Mosquito spraying activities are underway on the Big Island, and locals are being urged to remove sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed [2,4]. Individuals with symptoms of dengue should contact their health care provider, and take care to remain indoors to prevent infecting additional mosquitoes and further spreading the disease .