Kalama Valley residents warned of potential dengue case - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Kalama Valley residents warned of potential dengue case

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EAST HONOLULU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

State health officials said Thursday the number of confirmed dengue fever cases on the Big Island has increased to 19, while another potential dengue case has been reported in East Oahu that is not related to the Hawaii County outbreak.

Vector control officers from the state Health Department went door-to-door at Laielua Place and elsewhere off Kealahou Street in Kalama Valley at midday Thursday, warning residents that a neighbor who lives within 200 yards of them may have dengue fever.

Richard Stark, a resident of Laielua Place, said, "It's still potentially dengue, so I'm still terrified.  I'm the one living in the neighborhood with my neighbors and we're all very concerned."

Deputy State Epidemiologist Melissa Viray said the potential case in Kalama Valley -- which still must be verified through tests -- is not related to the Hawaii County outbreak.

"This is our routine response to prevent and make sure that we don't see any further transmission," Viray said.

She said the person who might have dengue in Kalama Valley got sick after returning from a country where dengue is more commonplace.

"This is an individual who traveled to an endemic country and came back and developed symptoms consistent with dengue.  And so this is not related to our larger investigation," Viray said.

Vector control officers left flyers on Kalama Valley residents' doorknobs urging them to be on guard against mosquitoes because they don't want the insects to bite the potentially infected person and then spread the painful disease by biting others.

"Anytime we see a mosquito-borne illness, that suspected in an individual in the state, we send our vector control folks out there to respond while we are waiting for testing and we investigate the case and we ask them to avoid mosquito bites," Viray said.

Laielua Place resident Matt Glei said, "If the vector control guys are coming around handing this out, that's a good thing. Cause, you know, a lot of people aren't paying attention to water in their back yard and in a pot, that kind of thing."

Stark said, "I'm definitely going to buy mosquito repellent, that's for sure.  And I don't have standing water around my house and I'm going to be on the lookout at my neighbors' houses."

Kalama Valley is usually dry but it's been a wet last few months and Hawaii News Now found ponding water where mosquitoes could breed in a few spots such as by a curb along Kealahou Street.

Viray said it's important for people all across the state to take whatever steps possible to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and to stop mosquitoes from breeding on their property.

State health officials said of the 19 confirmed dengue cases on Hawaii Island, 12 of the patients are residents of the island and seven are visitors. There are two pediatric cases and the other 17 patients are adults.

The onset of the illness ranged from Sept. 15 to Oct. 27, health officials said.

Viray said it's important for people all across the state to take whatever steps possible to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and to stop mosquitoes from breeding on their property.

Health officials recommend that people in mosquito-prone areas repair and replace screens, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and use mosquito repellent when they are outside.  They also said homeowners should remove or empty anything that holds standing water, clean their gutters and fix leaky faucets.

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