Hawaii Reports Additional Cases of Dengue Fever

Revelation 6:7,8 NCV When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a pale horse. Its rider was named death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill people by war, by starvation, by disease, and by the wild animals of the earth.

The number of people infected with dengue fever in Hawaii is climbing, officials said Monday.

The Hawaii Department of Health reported that it was investigating 167 total cases of the mosquito-borne illness, which can lead to fatal consequences in extreme cases. There were 122 confirmed dengue cases as of Dec. 2, signifying 45 additional infections in about three weeks.

State health officials said only three of the 167 cases are currently infectious. The other people got sick between Sept. 11 and Dec. 10, so they are no longer at risk of transmitting the disease.

The health department also reported there were 659 additional potential dengue infections that had been ruled out, either through test results or the illnesses failing to meet the case criteria.

Dengue isn’t endemic (regularly found) in Hawaii, though health officials said it can occasionally be brought in from travelers who got infected in endemic regions. But this latest outbreak on the Big Island is unique because it’s the first cluster of locally acquired cases since 2011, when Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) records indicate five people got sick in Oahu.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an arm of the United Nations, dengue is transmitted when an infected mosquito bites a human. The infection generates a flu-like illness — from which most people usually recover within a week — though it sometimes progresses to severe dengue. In those instances, people can suffer organ impairment and severe bleeding.

The WHO estimates severe dengue hospitalizes about 500,000 people per year, and about 2.5 percent of them die. Dengue is much more common, with some estimates indicating as many as 136 million people falling ill every year, but non-severe cases of the disease are rarely ever fatal. Symptoms can include severe headaches, swollen glands, joint and muscle pain and a high fever.

The Hawaii outbreak reflects a global trend in which dengue is spreading to new locales.

The WHO reports the disease was traditionally found in the tropics and subtropics, but it’s now endemic in more than 100 countries and about half the world’s population is at risk of infection. Still, early detection and access to good medical care keeps the mortality rate below 1 percent. Without those, the WHO says severe dengue can be fatal in more than 20 percent of cases.

Hawaii health officials say it’s still safe to visit the island. The department encourages travelers to use insect repellant and wear long sleeves and pants to help prevent mosquitos from biting.

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