According to Time, a pesky mosquito might make you rethink a nice tropical Hawaiian Christmas this year. Or at least, it should make you think long and hard about your habits and how you protect yourself from mosquito bites. Usually just annoying and itchy, mosquitoes are actually a vector that can carry disease to animals and humans. Though rare, and many rumors and untruths exist about the diseases that can be transmitted by mosquitoes, it is true that they can transmit a viral illness called Dengue Fever.
What is Dengue Fever? It’s transmitted by the bite of a mosquito, which many are not aware of until hours later when they experience mild itching at the site of the mosquito bite. Symptoms of dengue fever include high fever (usually over 103 degrees), severe headache, joint pain, rashes, and mild bleeding, the CDC said. However, it can turn fatal if it causes viral meningitis or complications from dehydration or severe trouble with the clotting of blood, which rarely causes people to have internal bleeding that may lead to death.
Although there is fairly decent prevention of mosquitos, including staying away from damp areas, standing or brackish water, staying in at night, using mosquito netting, wearing long pants, shirts, and using insect repellent, the rate that Dengue Fever is spreading in a geographic location that is as relatively small as Hawaii is concerning. According to Hawaii News Now, the CDC has mobilized and landed in Hawaii to help with the concerning spread.
Virginia Pressler, director of the state Department of Health, said the on-site CDC assessment will help the state determine if additional measures are needed to contain the dengue fever outbreak and what those measures may entail.
“We are following best practices, to our knowledge, and with their guidance that we have been all along. It’s just about being prepared. It’s not about running around and having fear or being concerned. If it’s in a city facility, we’re normally looking at areas where mosquitoes can be found, responding to issues that either we find or people report to us. We just want to make sure that to the extent that we have any possibility of dengue, that we’re doing everything we can. Much of it, probably three-fourths of it, depends on the people of this island, one million strong, to dump out standing water.”
While travel is not being forbidden or even discouraged at this point, officials are saying common sense is the answer. Report standing water, which attracts mosquitoes, and stay away from those areas. Report areas that have mosquito sightings. Get medical attention if you have any symptoms, especially if you are aware of being bitten by a mosquito.
Honolulu is reporting about 15-20 new cases a day currently, officials say. That’s concerning enough for the CDC to become involved and action taken. It’s unlikely that people who are well would die of dengue fever, but children, the elderly, people with other medical problems, the malnourished, or those with HIV may be at special risk and want to avoid known risk areas for now.
[Photo by Getty Images]