As of November 5, there have been a total of 15 confirmed cases of locally acquired dengue fever on the Big Island. There have been no confirmed cases at North Hawaii Community Hospital but hospital personnel are on alert for possible exposure.
Dengue fever is a viral illness spread by mosquitoes. Dengue is not spread directly from one person to another. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 400 million people worldwide are infected every year.
There are not yet any vaccines to prevent infection with dengue virus and the most effective protective measures are those that avoid mosquito bites. When infected, early recognition and prompt treatment can greatly lower the risk of medical complications. Dengue symptoms generally appear between five and seven days after a bite by an infected mosquito. Symptoms include high fever, joint and muscle pain, severe headache, eye pain, and rash.
People with mild cases may have only a fever. Uncomplicated dengue cases usually resolve within two to seven days. Individuals suspected or confirmed to have dengue are instructed to stay indoors and avoid mosquito bites during their first week of illness.
Patients should be encouraged to aggressively control and eliminate mosquitoes around their homes and businesses by eliminating areas of standing water. Windows and door screens should be checked for holes and tears and repaired as needed. Individuals should use mosquito repellents containing 20–30% DEET (diethyltoluamide) and wear long sleeves and pants when possible.
If you think that you or family member may have contracted dengue, you are encouraged to call the Hawaii Department of Health Dengue Hotline (808) 586-8362 or contact your primary care physician immediately.
Additional information is available at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/dib/disease/dengue/