Dengue Fever Strikes Hawaii: What Is It? What Are The Symptoms?

Dengue fever is reportedly on the rise in Hawaii.

CNN reports that the number of new cases continues to climb — reaching 181 cases as of Thursday.

According to the Hawaii Department of Health, seven of those 181 cases have been reported since December 13 and may be infectious. The remaining cases were diagnosed and confirmed as no longer infectious between September 11 and December 13.

“Of the confirmed cases, 163 are Hawaii Island residents and 18 are visitors. 145 cases have been adults; 36 have been children… As of today, a total of 708 reported potential cases have been excluded based on test results and/or not meeting case criteria.”

It is true that seven out of 181 cases is a relatively small figure, representing nearly 4 percent of the complete group. However, CNN reports that over 20 of those cases were reported in early November alone.

Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, reportedly said that “this is an issue that we have to take seriously.” CNN reports that Hotez even compared the level of seriousness to “the Ebola epidemic in West Africa last year.”

What exactly is Dengue fever and what are the symptoms of this disease? Dengue fever (also referred to as the “break-bone fever”) is a mosquito-borne disease reportedly caused by what is known as the Dengue virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dengue fever is a leading cause of sickness and death in subtropic and tropic areas — infecting up to 400 million people around the world each year.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) states that nearly half of the world’s population is now at risk of being infected with the Dengue virus. The virus is reportedly transmitted through the bites of female mosquitoes that have been infected themselves. After an incubation period of four-to-10 days, the infected mosquito is able to transmit the Dengue virus until her death.

There are reportedly no vaccines available currently that will prevent infection. The CDC states that the most effective measures to stay protected against Dengue fever “are those that avoid mosquito bites.”

However, “early recognition and prompt supportive treatment” are also encouraged to lower the risk of extreme medical complications, as well as death.

What are the symptoms of Dengue fever? According to the CDC and WHO, the primary symptom is a high fever of at least 104 degrees Fahrenheit that lasts for several days and up to a week.

In addition to the high fever, a person infected with this disease will usually have at least two of the following additional symptoms:

  • Rash
  • Severe headache
  • Low white cell count
  • Severe pain behind the eyes
  • Muscle, joint and/or bone pain
  • “Mild bleeding manifestation” (such as a bloody nose or bleeding gums)

The CDC also provides a list of warning signs that indicate the need to immediately go to the emergency room — such as patches or red spots on the skin, black and tarry stools, severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, breathing complications, as well as pale and clammy skin.

Dr. Lyle Peterson of the CDC confirmed earlier this month that he was not able to predict the number of new cases of Dengue fever that would emerge before the end of the outbreak.

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According to CNN, Peterson even claimed that “this could go on for a number of months.” Since there is a lack of tools available to minimize Dengue fever outbreaks quickly, the focus is currently on the naturally tedious process of controlling mosquitoes.

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