Health officials confirm 2 travel-associated cases of Zika on Maui

Health officials confirm 2 travel-associated cases of Zika on Maui

KAHULUI, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two residents on Maui have tested positive for Zika, county officials announced Friday.

Health officials said the residents contracted the mosquito-borne illness while travelling overseas, but did not specify where they had visited.

Dr. Lorrin Pang, Maui District health officer, said the cases underscore the need to be vigilant about the Zika virus.

"These are what we call imported cases," he said. "They might have spread the virus to our mosquitoes, which may then start a local outbreak."

Health officials have been visiting neighbors of the confirmed patients, alerting them to clear out common mosquito breeding sites.

"Since we do not have a drug cure of vaccine yet, we must rely on mosquito control," Pang said. "The best way to do this is to eliminate mosquito breeding sites and make sure people avoid getting mosquito bites."

Zika is spread when a sick person gets bitten by a mosquito, which then bites another person and passes the disease on.

It can also be transmitted through sexual contact. Some who carry Zika do not show symptoms, while in others, the illness can last for more than a week. Symptoms include fever, joint pain, rash or pink eye.

The most alarming element of Zika has been its link to a serious birth defect called microcephaly, in which babies are born with small heads and brains.

Since January 1, 2015, there have been at least 12 cases of travel-associated Zika in Hawaii.

Meanwhile, on Oahu, state Health officials deployed a vector control team to the Punchbowl area following a suspected case of a mosquito-born illness. State Health Department officials say more tests are needed to identify the illness.

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