Doctors are important line of defense in stopping dengue spread, - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Doctors are important line of defense in stopping dengue spread, experts say

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Dr. Vivek Nerurkar says doctors should work to ensure patients with flu-like symptoms don't have dengue fever. Dr. Vivek Nerurkar says doctors should work to ensure patients with flu-like symptoms don't have dengue fever.

There's been a substantial jump in the number of dengue cases reported on the Big Island, with officials confirming 56 cases Monday.

That's up from 38 cases on Friday.

With Hawaii on the cusp of flu season -- coupled with the dengue outbreak -- doctors across the state may have their work cut out for them in terms of diagnosis.

"Is this flu or is this dengue? Because they mimic very similar symptoms," said Dr. Vivek Nerurkar, an expert in tropical medicine.

He says although overall chances of dengue spreading from the Big Island are relatively low, there is a chance other islands could be affected.

Physicians are an important line of defense and should be asking about a lot more than your symptoms, he said.

"Travel questions should be more prominent," said Dr. Nerurkar, adding that on Oahu doctors already see between 15 and 20 cases of dengue a year coming in from tourists or residents who have traveled abroad.

With the additional threat of cases multiplying on the Big Island the community should take a proactive approach, he said.

Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist, agreed.

"It's not just the Big Island but Oahu, Maui, Kauai. We all have to do our part to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes," she said.

Besides bug spray, getting rid of standing water is the best way to fight the bite. "Mosquitoes want to stay near us but if we eliminate places where they can live they don't fly very far," said Dr. Park.

Clearing the water off your own property might not be enough. Experts suggest talking to neighbors to make sure they're doing the same.

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