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The Hawaii Department of Health has confirmed another case of travel-related dengue fever, this time on Maui, making it the second case on Oahu in a week. The last event before these was in December. At the time, the Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources reminded residents that mosquito breeding facilities such as buckets, plants, small containers and planters only need small amounts of water to breed.

According to the Hawaii Department of Health, several cases this week and in 2023 involve individuals who have recently traveled outside the United States to areas where dengue fever is endemic.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease that occurs in tropical and subtropical regions. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, severe headache, joint and eye pain, and rashes, which usually resolve within one to two weeks. However, in rare cases, it can develop into dengue hemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.

Although there is no cure for dengue, there are preventive measures that can be taken when traveling and the development of a vaccine, which we will discuss below.

Hawaii is home to the mosquito species that transmit dengue.

however, Dengue fever It was not established or expanded in Hawaii. Recent cases have been confined to travelers returning from other affected regions.

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In 2016, there were 250 confirmed cases of locally acquired dengue fever in Hawaii.

The last reported case of dengue fever in Hawaii was in 2011. There were 250 confirmed cases in a four-month period, marking Hawaii’s largest dengue fever outbreak in 70 years. Of those infected, 25 were visitors to Hawaii and 227 were residents.

That outbreak may have been the result of the introduction of dengue through infected travelers, which is due to local transmission.

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Why is dengue fever not endemic in Hawaii?

This is mainly due to geographic and environmental factors as well as the absence of large numbers of dengue mosquitoes.

The remoteness of the Hawaiian Islands is a natural barrier against the establishment of dengue fever. This, coupled with the limited number of dengue mosquitoes, further reduces the chances.

Hawaii’s climate is another factor. While Hawaii’s climate is clear to mosquitoes, as many visitors will attest, it lacks uniform conditions conducive to mosquito breeding and virus transmission, known for dengue-prone areas. Hawaii’s seasonal variation in rainfall and high temperature fluctuations generally help reduce the spread of mosquitoes.

The state maintains strict controls, including mosquito monitoring and control efforts and public health interventions. Being proactive in Hawaii can help reduce the risk of transmission and prevent outbreaks.

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Could Dengue Be Infected in Hawaii?

There is a limited risk of dengue in Hawaii. The reasons for that would be:

  • More Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. It can happen unintentionally with cargo or people traveling.
  • Changes in temperature and rainfall due to climate change will create more favorable conditions for mosquitoes.
  • As happened in 2016, world travelers from dengue-prone areas introduce the virus to Hawaii.

Dengue fever vaccines.

Prevention is generally the only cure. Effective prevention strategies focus on avoiding mosquito bites.

The development of a vaccine to prevent dengue fever has been going on for almost a century. Progress has reportedly been hampered by challenges associated with developing immunity to the four serotypes of dengue virus.

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Two vaccines are available on the market, Dengvaxia and Qdenga.

Dengvaxia is mainly for those who have had previous dengue fever or who live in areas where most people are already exposed to dengue. That’s mostly because it increases the risk of developing severe dengue in people who aren’t already exposed.

Qdenga, however, is designed for those who have not previously been infected with the virus.

Several other promising vaccines are under development.

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Tips to Avoid Mosquito Bites in Hawaii

Although dengue fever is not endemic in Hawaii, it is best to avoid mosquito bites.

  • Be careful during periods of high mosquito activity before sunset, after sunrise, and in areas with shade or fresh water.
    Choose well-filtered or air-conditioned ones.
  • When mosquitoes are present, consider treating your room with natural or chemical repellants and leaving the area after spraying.
  • Wear protective clothing as the first line of defense, including long pants, socks, and long-sleeved shirts, especially at sunrise and sunset.
  • Clothing may have built-in mosquito repellent properties.
  • Use mosquito repellent. Repellents recommended by the CDC include DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), PMD, and IR3535.

Dengue outbreaks occur in various parts of the world, including Central and South America, Asia (such as the Philippines), the Middle East, Africa, some Pacific islands (such as the American territories of American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau), and the Caribbean (including Puerto Rico). ). Countries with high rates of dengue are Nicaragua, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador.

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