KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - There are now nearly 50 suspected Dengue Fever cases in Hawaii awaiting lab confirmation. As the state's Vector Control Branch continues to struggle with a staffing shortage, the public is being called upon to help.
Dengue Fever is spread by mosquitos. In these tight budget times, two Oahu lawmakers are joining forces for an education campaign that, they say, won't cost a dime, but will do a lot to control Dengue in Hawaii.
The plants are beautiful and so are the pots they're growing in. But inside each one could be a breeding ground for mosquitos, potential carriers of Dengue Fever.
"It's something that everyone, I think, statewide needs to be very aware of and to be taking preventive measures within their own neighborhoods, within their own homes," Tulsi Gabbard-Tamayo, Honolulu City Council member, said.
Since March 24th, there have been four confirmed cases of Dengue Fever in Hawaii. Health officials are awaiting lab results for 48 suspected cases.
Gabbard-Tamayo and state Rep. John Mizuno hit the streets of Kalihi Valley Sunday to educate their constituents about ways to reduce the spread of the viral illness.
"There is a great concern because Department of Health Vector Control is understaffed right now," Mizuno said. "It's been decimated with the cuts. We know that but, nevertheless, we have a public safety issue before us."
Therefore, he says residents must do their part by checking for mosquitos, emptying containers of standing water, and spraying suspected breeding areas with dishwashing detergent in water.
"That provides a thin film over the surface and it will suffocate your wigglies," Mizuno said. "They only live for about a week before they're transformed into mosquito. The mosquito itself will live for about a month."
The grassroots awareness campaign was supposed to include a former state vector control inspector, who was transferred to another position during a reduction in force two years ago. In the face of a possible Dengue outbreak, Mizuno says that individual is keeping a low-profile as he tries to get his old job back.
"He wants to help the public," Mizuno said. "This is a public safety issue and so he's willing to take a $700 cut in pay to transfer from another department back to his old position."
Symptoms of Dengue include fever, severe headaches, rash, and eye, joint, and muscle pain.
The four confirmed cases in the past month involved residents in Pearl City.