Fighting dengueWith the number of dengue fever cases in Hawaii rising, state Health Director Bruce Anderson put muscle behind his mosquito-eradication campaign yesterday, taking a chain saw to a bamboo trunk outside his home where water collected.
Health officials encourage isle
cleanups every Sunday
By Lisa Asato
"There's nothing more effective than mosquito abatement -- getting rid of breeding areas," Anderson said. "That is the solution. If you don't have mosquitoes you don't have dengue."
Touring Anderson's Nuuanu property with the media yesterday, health officials announced a new broadcast and door-to-door campaign to encourage residents to "make every Sunday Dengue Cleanup Day."
Now in its second month, Hawaii's dengue fever outbreak continues to grow.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention confirmed seven new cases yesterday, raising the total to 69 from 62. Maui's three new cases were in Hana, Wailuku and Lahaina. One of Oahu's four new cases occurred in Aiea. The other three involved Laie residents who live with two other confirmed cases.
Statewide, there were 55 confirmed cases on Maui, four on Kauai and 10 on Oahu. Molokai is investigating its first reported case. Meanwhile, the number of reports of illnesses fell to 292 from 357, and there were two cases testing positive in preliminary screenings.
For the next month, the Health Department will air public service announcements on television and radio, asking people to help prevent the spread of the mosquito-borne virus by clearing their yards of standing water, which mosquito larvae need to grow.
The campaign also involves neighborhood visits in which 100 Health Department volunteers and staff will show residents how to clear their yards of breeding sites. The dengue prevention team, which started training yesterday, will make their way from Kaaawa to Kahuku. The program also starts Sunday in Hana.
To kick off the campaign, state vector control inspector Ralph Vares used Anderson's property to highlight common problems.
He pointed to a rain gutter full of water and dead leaves, a no-no because the organic material speeds up larval growth.
Standing pipes that may support plants, he added, should be capped or filled with dirt or sand. Bird baths should be emptied, rinsed and refilled weekly. And a detergent solution of 4 ounces per gallon of water can be added to plants like bromeliads, which are natural water containers and hard to empty.
Health officials also pointed to larvae growing in a rain catchment system designed for a quail coop in Anderson's back yard.
The dengue virus, symptoms of which include fever, rash and eye and joint pain, is not contagious and can only be passed through the bite of an infected mosquito.