Dengue Fever Travel Warning for Oahu, Hawaii

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The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed a travel-related dengue virus case in Haleiwa, O‘ahu. Upon investigation, DOH found conditions that could increase the risk of transmission.

Vector control teams have responded and will continue to be active in the Haleiwa area on Oahu’s Northshore.

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease occurring in tropical and subtropical areas. Those who become infected with the virus a second time are at a significantly greater risk of developing severe disease.

Warning for the Public

The public is urged to take additional precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites and to stop mosquitoes from breeding. 

Symptoms are high fever, rash, and muscle and joint pain. In severe cases, there is serious bleeding and shock, which can be life-threatening. Treatment includes fluids and pain relievers. Severe cases require hospital care.

The area where the case was reported experiences high traffic of visitors and tourists. 

Highly dense populations of Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, a vector of dengue virus, were identified around the residence where the case was found and the surrounding area. The initial vector control response resulted in a marked reduction of mosquitoes around the case residence.

The Hawaii Department of Health will continue to monitor mosquito numbers in this area and take additional measures as needed. Signage will be posted to educate the public on protecting themselves and preventing transmission.

How to reduce the spread of dengue fever

The DOH asks for support in reducing the potential for the spread of dengue by transmission.  Residents, visitors, and businesses can take the following steps:

  • Apply mosquito repellent on exposed skin, especially if outdoors. Repellent should be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and contain 20-30% DEET (active ingredient). Other alternative active ingredients may include picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. Click here to find the insect repellent that is right for you.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes (long sleeves and pants) that cover your skin.
  • Keep mosquitoes out of your home or business by keeping doors closed or screens in good repair.
  • Dump any standing water in or around your residence or business to eliminate potential breeding sites. This includes removing rainwater collected in buckets, flower pots, used tires, or even plants such as bromeliads.   

The Symptoms of Dengue Fever

Symptoms of dengue typically may be mild or severe and include fever, nausea, vomiting, rash, and body aches. Symptoms usually last two to seven days, and although severe and even life-threatening illnesses can occur, most people can recover after about a week. 

The Department of Health is asking people, if they are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, to see their doctor or healthcare provider and inform them that they were in an area where a case of dengue virus was confirmed. 

Dengue virus is spread from infected person to person through mosquito bites. While Hawai‘i is home to the type of mosquitos that can carry dengue, the disease is not established in Hawaii.

Of the ten dengue cases reported in Hawai‘i since January 1, 2023, to present, five had traveled to Central or South America, and five had traveled to Asia.

Anyone who travels to an area with dengue is at risk for infection.

The CDC advises travelers to practice usual precautions when traveling to dengue-risk areas.

How to protect from dengue fever?

This includes using an EPA-registered insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants outdoors, and sleeping in an air-conditioned room or room with properly fitted window screens or under an insecticide-treated bed net.

Some countries are reporting increased numbers of cases, so it is essential, four to six weeks before travel, to review country-specific travel information for the most up-to-date guidance on dengue risk and prevention measures for that country.

Travelers returning from an area with a risk of dengue should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks, and if symptoms of dengue develop within two weeks upon return, they should seek medical evaluation.

For more information, please visit the Disease Outbreak Control Division (DOCD) website and Vector Control Branch (VCB) website.

About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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