Dengue case
might be isolated

The state finds no signs of
an outbreak on the Big Island

HILO >> The state Health Department can find no apparent outbreak of dengue fever, which preliminary tests show caused the death of a Big Island man who recently traveled to the mainland.

The department made the determination through an investigation of the circumstances around the family of the victim, Simon Hultman, 22, of Nanawale Estates south of Hilo, said Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo.

Hultman's mother, Diane, confirmed this week that preliminary results on her son's death in Maryland Jan. 26 showed dengue as the cause.

But such preliminary tests can give false positive readings, and further testing is being done in Puerto Rico, Hultman said. That testing can take two to four weeks, she said.

An outbreak of dengue fever in Hawaii in 2001-2002 totaled 119 confirmed cases, but none were on the Big Island. There were no deaths, and deaths from dengue worldwide are rare, Okubo said.

The illness is a major cause of death for children in Southeast Asia, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Simon Hultman, a student at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., spent Christmas on the Big Island with his family and his girlfriend from Japan, Diane Hultman said. He spent part of that time hiking in Waipio Valley, the Waimea area and North Kohala, she said.

He was in good health when he returned to school early in January, she said.

But he went briefly to a hospital on Jan. 18 and was found seriously ill at his dormitory the next day.

As soon as dengue was suspected, Maryland health officials notified the Hawaii Department of Health, Okubo said.

Officials here "intensely interviewed" the family, retraced Hultman's activities and talked to people he contacted, Okubo said. Nothing unusual was found.

Officials advised people in the area around Diane Hultman's home to reduce mosquito breeding places, since certain daytime mosquitoes carry the disease, which is caused by any of four closely related viruses.

People should empty standing water, spray a soapy solution on it or put fish in ponds to eat the insects, Okubo said.

People infected by dengue normally show symptoms in five or six days, she said. But as many as 15 days may pass before symptoms appear.

When internal bleeding occurs in certain serious cases, the disease is called dengue hemorrhagic fever.

Hultman's death certificate listed bleeding in his brain as contributing to his death, his mother said.

Hultman was noted for his intelligence and had studied in Japan and Hungary. "He lived a great life," his mother said.

Memorial services for him will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Puula United Church of Christ in Nanawale.

State Health Department


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