Dengue fever case count reaches 112

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KAILUA-KONA — Confirmed dengue fever cases continue to rise on the Big Island more than one month after state health officials first confirmed the presence of the mosquito-borne virus.

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KAILUA-KONA — Confirmed dengue fever cases continue to rise on the Big Island more than one month after state health officials first confirmed the presence of the mosquito-borne virus.

State health officials reported Monday 112 confirmed cases of dengue fever around the Big Island. Of the confirmed cases, 98 are Big Island residents and 14 are visitors, according to the Hawaii Department of Health. Twenty-six of the cases have been children younger than age 18. The last onset of illness occurred Nov. 20.

The number of cases has risen almost daily since epidemiologists on Oct. 27 said they were investigating two possible cases of dengue fever. Within a couple weeks, the number of confirmed cases reached 33 and by Nov. 24, 93 dengue fever cases had been confirmed on the island.

Some 262 potential cases have been deemed negative.

“This is an islandwide issue and that is becoming more clear with each day because we are seeing cases in different areas of the island as we expected was possible and likely at the beginning of the outbreak,” Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira told West Hawaii Today Monday. “We (the county and state) want to continue to encourage and solicit the community’s assistance in doing everything they can to avoid being bitten.”

That includes pushing the “Fight the Bite” campaign aimed at preventing the spread of the virus; ensuring stores have DEET repellent available; spraying Aqua-Reslin to kill mosquitoes; and following up on complaints about standing water and other mosquito-related concerns, he said. Retail stakeholders and wholesalers, as well as shipping company Young Bros., have committed to ensuring repellent is available to the community and Aqua-Reslin to DOH Vector Control agents.

The Vector Control agents on Monday continued to spray the highly regulated insect killer islandwide at areas where cases have been confirmed, Oliveira said. To date, 194 mosquito abatement sprayings have been conducted. They’re also asking property owners to give crews consent to spray on private property, if asked. That effort was in addition to Civil Defense crews out in Kona, among other areas, investigating complaints, which total 50, about standing water and abandoned tires.

Also Monday, Hookena Beach Park, which was closed Nov. 4 after health officials linked cases to the site, remained off limits to the public, Oliveira said.

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“We’re asking for everybody’s patience, understanding and support,” he said, noting that the mosquito lifecycle is about four to six weeks. “What we’d like to do is keep the park closed until such time that we feel confident that the reservoir of the virus and few lifecycles of the mosquitoes have passed. … Then we can expedite opening the park.”

To report a suspect case, call 322-4880 in West Hawaii and 974-6001 in East Hawaii. To report mosquito concerns, call Civil Defense at 935-3311.

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