Saturday, September 22, 2001

Dengue fever confirmed
in East Maui

By Treena Shapiro

The first local outbreak of dengue fever in 50 years was confirmed yesterday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Four East Maui residents have been diagnosed with the viral disease, which is characterized by a high fever, severe headaches, joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and rash.

In rare cases, the illness can become life-threatening, progressing to faintness, shock and generalized bleeding.

Since none of the people with the virus has traveled recently, the virus was acquired on Maui, probably originating as an undetected case in a visitor or returning resident who had traveled to an endemic area, according to the state Health Department.

The disease, which is transmitted by mosquitos, occurs primarily in tropical and subtropical regions.

Bruce Anderson, director of the state Health Department, said that the state will attempt to contain the outbreak quickly with aggressive mosquito-control efforts, which has eliminated the disease in the past.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment.

The East Hawaii community can help by covering or properly discarding items that collect or store rainwater, emptying and cleaning pet and animal watering containers at least once a week, using air-conditioning or screened windows and doors, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants and using mosquito repellent on skin and clothing when exposure is unavoidable.

Those with dengue fever should protect themselves from mosquitos while experiencing symptoms to avoid spreading the disease.

A community meeting is scheduled in Hana at 4 p.m. Monday to discuss issues related to dengue fever.

For more information, call Gen Iinuma at the Hawaii District Health Office at (808) 984-8216.

Reports of suspected cases should be made to the Epidemiology Branch at 586-4586 on Oahu, (808) 933-0912 on Hawaii, (808) 984-8213 on Maui, Molokai or Lanai and (808) 241-3563 on Kauai.

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