County closes Hookena Beach

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Hookena Beach Park is closed until further notice as county and state officials try to curb the spread of dengue fever.

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Hookena Beach Park is closed until further notice as county and state officials try to curb the spread of dengue fever.

Calling it a proactive measure, Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira said the closure allows workers to target mosquitoes, known to spread the disease, with a pesticide. The closure started at noon Wednesday.

The state Department of Health reported Wednesday the number of confirmed cases of dengue on the Big Island has increased to 15 in total.

Health officials said earlier this week cases have been concentrated near areas in Hookena and Honaunau in West Hawaii. Cases also have been confirmed in East Hawaii.

The combination of confirmed cases in the area and the presence of a mosquito species known to transmit the disease resulted in the park being closed, Oliveira said.

“A lot of it is maybe circumstantial,” he said. “I think the agencies are trying to be proactive.”

A pesticide known as Aqua-Reslin is being used. Oliveira said health officials are teaching county Department of Parks and Recreation staff how to apply it so it can be used elsewhere if needed.

No closures of other parks or county facilities are planned.

After the spraying, Oliveira said health officials will assess its effectiveness before deciding whether to reopen the park.

Dengue is not endemic to the state, but health officials warned without the public’s help in combating the mosquito-borne virus, it could become common on Hawaii Island.

Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, severe headaches, eye, joint and muscle pain, and rash. The rash typically appears on the hands, arms, legs and feet three to four days after the fever begins. Minor bleeding problems also can occur.

To avoid being bitten by infected mosquitoes, experts recommend the following:

• Use mosquito netting over beds, and screens on windows and doorways.

• Use mosquito repellents with 20-30 percent DEET and wear appropriate clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants that reduce exposure to mosquito bites.

• Mosquitoes are drawn to dark colors; so if possible, wear white or light-colored clothing when you are likely to be exposed to biting mosquitoes.

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Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

Email Colin M. Stewart at cstewart@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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