Dengue outbreak hits 157

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With the official count of confirmed cases of dengue fever now identified on Hawaii Island at 157, the state Department of Health released a new map Wednesday showing updated potential areas of infection.

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With the official count of confirmed cases of dengue fever now identified on Hawaii Island at 157, the state Department of Health released a new map Wednesday showing updated potential areas of infection.

As health officials have continued to gather data, with new cases cropping up all over the island, they have been able to zero in ever closer to specific locations of possible infection.

This is reflected in smaller “risk level” circles drawn on their maps as epidemiologists become more certain of the areas where the virus could be infecting mosquitoes.

State Epidemiologist Sarah Park has refrained from pinpointing specific locations for fear of revealing private health information regarding patients, as well as the concern that people living in areas not included on the map will become complacent as the state continues to push its “Fight the Bite!” campaign, aimed at convincing residents to avoid mosquito bites that spread the disease.

However, the newest map shows a multitude of general areas and color coding representing the potential for mosquitoes infecting new patients.

The island’s sole “high risk” area remains along the Kona Coast near Captain Cook. Meanwhile, “moderate risk” areas include Milolii, Kailua-Kona and Pahoa.

Fifteen areas labeled as “some risk” are located on the east and west sides of the island, including areas around Keahole Point, Honokohau, Kalaoa, Kipahoehoe Bay, Waikoloa Village, Kawaihae, South Hilo, Mountain View, Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaiian Shores/Hawaiian Beaches, the intersection of Kalapana-Kapoho Road and Kapoho Road, Pohoiki, Kehena Beach, Kalapana and Ocean View.

Since the first patient experienced the onset of symptoms Sept. 11, dengue fever has infected 140 Hawaii Island residents and 17 visitors. Health workers have excluded 615 potential cases based on test results and other criteria.

On Dec. 3, after surpassing Maui’s outbreak, the Big Island’s dengue fever outbreak became the largest outbreak of locally acquired dengue in the United States in the modern era. That does not include territories such as Puerto Rico and American Samoa, which both have seen far larger outbreaks.

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For more information, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/dengue-outbreak-2015/.

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

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