- By Deb Balzer
Dengue Fever in Hawaii: No New Cases
In Hawaii, dengue fever has been a concern after a recent outbreak prompted officials to declare a state of emergency on Hawaii Island (the Big Island). Officials now report there have been no new cases of dengue fever.
Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist Dr. Pritish Tosh says, "Right now, there is no dengue fever endemic; however, there was a recent outbreak on the Big Island that is now under control. There haven't been any new cases of dengue fever in Hawaii and those who have known to have been infected with dengue fever on the Big Island have been treated and are recovering."
Dr. Tosh adds, "The chain of transmission has been broken."
Dengue fever is transmitted by the same species of mosquito that carry Zika virus. Dr. Tosh says, "Wherever you have dengue fever outbreaks, you can also have Zika virus infection outbreaks if that virus were to come in. The idea is to stop the chain of transmission."
Dr. Tosh says it gets more complicated with Zika virus because 80 percent of those infected with Zika virus have no symptoms.
Dengue fever, which can be a very serious infection, is seen in many parts of the world including Asia and South America, the Caribbean and Latin America. Dr. Tosh says, "This is a purely vector-borne disease, meaning you have to be exposed to an insect that is carrying the virus. It does not transmit person to person."
Dr. Tosh says that while there isn't a dengue fever vaccine licensed in the U.S. at this time, dengue fever can be prevented. "If you are going to an area that you are likely to be bitten by a mosquito, then protect yourself by wearing insect repellant with DEET."