KEAAU, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Approximately 120 people packed Keaau High School cafeteria Tuesday evening. It was the last of six scheduled community meetings to address dengue fever concerns on the Big Island.
Authorities have confirmed nine new cases of dengue fever on the island, bringing the total number of people who have fallen ill in the outbreak to 65.
"It is expected that the numbers would climb. Part of it is, the more we talk about it, some of the cases would be old cases and some are symptomatic prior, they're coming forward now and saying I might have been sick. Not sure if I had dengue, can I be tested," said Darryl Oliveira, administrator with Hawaii County Civil Defense.
A map issued by the state health department shows potential sources of exposure on the island, by number of confirmed dengue cases that visited each area. However, state and county officials say the entire island is at risk.
"It's horribly concerning because I get bit all the time. For whatever reason they like me, since I was a child. Mosquitoes pick me out in a crowd of a thousand, so it's a big concern," said Hawaiian Paradise Park resident Easter Aquino.
At KTA in Hilo, OFF! bug spray was flying off the shelves.
"I was here yesterday just buying groceries and I heard the lady in front of me say they were gone. But this guy that I work with said he bought some this morning so I came to look for some today and it's gone already," said Hilo resident Nicole Aoki.
Spraying is most effective, but officials want to remind everyone to use covered clothing and avoid activities in areas of high mosquito concentration during the early morning and late afternoon periods when mosquito activity is greatest.
Although Tuesday's public information meeting was the last of the current scheduled meetings, Oliveira says they are looking at possible meetings in Ocean View, North Kohala, and Waimea. Plus, Oliveira says they will be spraying several schools near affected areas beginning this weekend.