Hawaii: The dengue fever outbreak in Maui reported in this column October 2 has spread to Oahu and Kauai. This is Hawaii’s first outbreak of the disease since 1943. As of Oct. 29 there were a total of 69 cases: 55 on Maui, principally in the east; 10 on Oahu; and 4 on Kauai. None of the cases has resulted in hospitalization. There is little risk to tourists staying in beach resorts in part because the mosquitoes that transmit the disease are seldom found on beaches. The state health department has launched an extensive mosquito control campaign to contain the outbreak, but a sure preventive is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes: wear clothing that covers the arms and legs, use insect repellent, and sleep under netting.
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease that cannot be passed from human to human, but can spread from one human to another if both are bitten by the same mosquito. Symptoms include high fever, severe headaches, joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and rash. The disease usually runs its course in ten days, but full recovery can take two to four weeks. There is no specific treatment or cure, and severe forms of the disease, dengue hemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome, are rare but can be fatal.