Isle officials plan defense
against West Nile virus

State health officials are asking for the public's help to keep the West Nile virus out of Hawaii.

"West Nile virus can cause severe and life-threatening illness, so we need to remain vigilant against it spreading to Hawaii," said Dr. Paul Kitsutani. of the Disease Control Division. "Early detection, through monitoring the wild bird population, and getting rid of mosquito breeding areas are our best defense against the rapid spread of WNV, should it ever be introduced to the islands."

So far, there have been no cases of the virus in Hawaii.

The West Nile virus was detected in New York City during the summer of 1999.

Since then it has affected humans, birds, horses and other vertebrates in the mainland, Canada and Mexico.

The virus is part of the family of viruses known as flavivirus and is passed between mosquitos and birds.

Most people who are bitten by an infected mosquito will show either no symptoms or mild symptoms that include fever, body aches and headaches. They may also experience swollen glands and a skin rash that will last for a few days.

On rare occasions the virus infection can lead to a fatal illness known as West Nile encephalitis, which is an inflammation of the brain or the membrane around the brain. Symptoms include headache, high fever, stiff neck, stupor, tremors, coma, convulsions and paralysis.

Officials are asking the public to get rid of standing water where mosquitos may breed and to collect any freshly dead wild bird, place it in a plastic bag and take it to the nearest humane society or other designated collection site.

For more information, visit the state Department of Health Web site at, or go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site at


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