Saturday, September 29, 2001

State acts to halt
dengue fever

A clinic will be set up to treat
the Maui cases, and workers may
soon spray for mosquitoes

By Gary T. Kubota

WAILUKU >> State officials announced a plan yesterday to establish a clinic in Hana to control the outbreak of dengue fever among East Maui residents as the number of suspected cases climbed to 61 since June.

The number of confirmed cases remained at 18, none of whom has required hospitalization. One was a Texas resident who lived in Hana for a couple of months, according to the state.

Dr. Lorrin Pang, the state health administrator on Maui, said a clinic will be separate from the Hana Community Health Center, and the state plans to hire eight nurses to test residents to find out if they are carriers of the virus.

In addition, the state plans to have 19 to 22 workers spraying pesticides to control mosquitos around residences and work places, and work with the county to clear rubbish areas where standing water may breed mosquitos.

Pang said there was no need to isolate the confirmed cases or the Hana and Nahiku areas, at least until further study to determine how the mosquito-borne virus was being spread among people.

But he said visitors going into the Hana and Nahiku areas will be warned about the dengue outbreak, and the state Health Department is encouraging visitors to stay away from the road leading to lower Nahiku, where some people have suffered from the virus.

Pang said schoolchildren in Hana are to be tested to determine if any of them are carriers who may not suffer from the symptoms of the disease.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also visiting Maui to study the spread of the dengue virus.

Pang said state officials believe the virus is being spread by a mosquito species that usually does not transmit the disease or, if it does, spreads it in connection with a different mosquito species.

Pang said the virus is spread from mosquito to human beings and cannot be transmitted among people alone.

He said the key to limiting further outbreaks is to clear areas of standing water within 660 feet of a house or work place and for people to become more responsible about controlling where mosquitos breed on their property.

"We want people to do this like a long-term habit," Pang said.

Maui Councilman Alan Arakawa said he did not think the measures were adequate to prevent the spread of dengue, and believes people who have been confirmed to have dengue should be quarantined and not allowed out of Hana and Nahiku.

"I think we should be putting them in isolation," he said.

The symptoms for dengue fever on Maui include a quick high fever with a rash on the body.

Officials warned that in a small number of cases, a person could encounter complications after the fever, such as shock or hemorrhaging from the gums. Those people should seek immediate medical attention.

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