No new dengue fever cases in Hawaii since Christmas

There have been 181 confirmed cases since early September, but officials said they expect a small trickle as people become more aware of the threat from mosquitoes.
By Stephen Feller  |  Dec. 29, 2015 at 3:25 PM
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HONOLULU, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Although cases of dengue fever spiked in the days leading up to Christmas, health officials in Hawaii said no new cases have been reported since the holiday.

As of Monday, 181 cases of the illness had been confirmed between early September and mid-December, with just two of the patients still considered contagious, according to the Hawaii State Department of Health.

Dengue fever, transmitted from an infected human to others by mosquitoes, but not person to person, had not been confirmed in the island state since 2011 on Oahu.

"The good news is that that outbreak stopped without any intervention by the heath department or anybody," said Richard Creagan, a state representative in Hawaii, according to CNN.

Of the confirmed cases, 163 are Hawaii Island residents and 18 are visitors; 145 are adults and 36 are children. A total of 715 potential cases were excluded from the count based on test results or not meeting case criteria.

Symptoms of dengue fever begin about a week after a bite and include fever, joint or muscle pains, headache or pains behind the eyes and a rash. Experts said while the infection can be deadly, patients under critical care with their doctors will "do fine."

State and local officials, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told KHON-TV they don't expect the outbreak to become an epidemic. They are working to limit the spread of mosquitoes and secondary infections of dengue by working with residents and business owners to limit standing water and other environments mosquitoes use to reproduce.

Dr. Lyle Petersen, director of the CDC's Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, is one of several officials who said they expect to continue seeing a trickle of cases because of the time it takes for people to feel symptoms of infection. Looking at where cases have been reported, and the flow of them over the last several months, they say the slowdown in cases is likely a good thing.

"We must be prepared for the long run. We're only a few months into this and it could stop next week, but it could go on for a number of months to come," Petersen said. "I think the probability of it becoming endemic is low, but I cannot predict with 100 percent certainty."

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