PEARL CITY (HawaiiNewsNow) - State health officials aren't calling it an outbreak but with at least four cases of dengue fever in the Pearl City area it's a warning for all of us to safeguard your home.
These cases are a big concern for the health department and the state is taking precautions.
The four cases have been isolated to one Pearl City neighborhood. They involve three family members and a neighbor. All four became sick at the end of February and have since recovered. About 70 other people that live around them have been notified and some have taken blood tests to see if they too have the disease.
"The reason we're concerned typically we get cases any time of year when someone comes back from Polynesia or Central America and they get exposed to dengue and they come home and get sick. in the case we have here these are people that have not traveled so it means someone that did travel brought the disease home and the exposure was here locally by local mosquitoes," said Gary Gill, Hawaii Health Department Deputy Director.
The state is not expecting a widespread outbreak. The type of mosquito that carries the disease here in Hawaii only travels about 100 yards and it has to bite an infected person then bite you in order to spread the disease. Still if you come down with high fever, severe headaches, joint and muscle pain, nausea and rash see a doctor right away. Physicians on Oahu have been advised about the potential for more dengue fever cases.
The state's vector control branch was hit by budget cuts. The department went from dozens of workers to just five. They stopped taking measures to prevent mosquitoes. The state won't say for sure if that caused these cases.
"Our ability to respond has been severely curtailed," said Gill. "Vector control before the cuts used to go out into communities after wet weather where there was standing water and mosquitoes or other vectors and we would treat that in anticipation of it being a problem area. We don't do that anymore. We don't have the staff to go out and treat prospectively anticipating a problem and avoiding a problem."
The state is not sure how the disease was introduced in Oahu for these cases.
For more information visit http://hawaii.gov/health/DIB/Dengue.html.