State hiring more workers to battle mosquitoes

  • 2711156_web1_case-locations-map.jpg
  • 2711156_web1_new-dengue-map.jpg

Eight new confirmed cases of dengue fever were added Wednesday to Hawaii Island’s running tally, which now stands at 190.

ADVERTISING

Eight new confirmed cases of dengue fever were added Wednesday to Hawaii Island’s running tally, which now stands at 190.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Health’s Big Island Vector Control offices in Hilo and Kona, which are responsible for controling the populations of mosquitoes that carry the disease, are preparing to hire one additional worker each, with an online listing for the jobs set to close today.

According to an afternoon update from the DOH, as many as four of the confirmed cases to date are potentially infectious to mosquitoes, having experienced onset of symptoms between Dec. 21 and Dec. 26. The other 186 cases, who experienced onset between Sept. 11 and Dec. 20, are no longer infectious.

Milolii, Captain Cook and Hookena remained the only areas on the island that are considered high risk for contracting the dengue virus, according to a new map updated by the DOH on Wednesday.

Areas around Pahoa and Kailua-Kona were listed as being moderate risk, while spots in and around Hilo, Mountain View, Hawaiian Paradise Park, Ocean View and Kalaoa were listed as posing “some risk.”

The DOH continues to spray and treat areas connected to confirmed cases of dengue fever to reduce mosquito populations. In addition, Civil Defense teams are inspecting areas of high mosquito presence reported by the community.

Ads for the two new positions on Hawaii Island for Vector Control workers are set to close today, said DOH spokeswoman Janice Okubo, with interviews to begin soon.

The positions will bring the island’s total to six. The positions were approved by the state Legislature during the 2015 session.

Workers with county departments also have been trained over the last several weeks to spray for mosquitoes in response to the dengue outbreak.

Health officials say that the best way for people to reduce the spread of dengue is to avoid and prevent mosquito bites.

The state’s “Fight the Bite” campaign continues to recommend that people wear clothing which minimizes exposed skin, use mosquito repellent, and avoid activities in areas of high mosquito concentration during the early morning and late afternoon periods when mosquito activity is greatest.

For more info, visit health.hawaii.gov, or call the DOH at 974-6001.

ADVERTISING

A Civil Defense message Wednesday also announced that beginning this week, its updates will be limited to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Email Colin M. Stewart at cstewart@hawaiitribune-herald.com.