Two possible cases of dengue fever have been identified by the State health officials on the Big Island.
Deputy State Epidemiologist Melissa Viray did not reveal about the patients identity. Blood samples of the patients were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Ft. Collins, Colo. Once the preliminary tests are done by the Department of Health in Hawaii, the CDC will perform the confirmatory tests and the results could be available next week.
"There are two cases on the Big Island where dengue fever is one of the possibilities we're considering. Right now, we're still in the middle of our investigation, and we're still awaiting confirmatory testing from the CDC. ... It's a little too early yet to know whether it's dengue or another infection," said Viray.
There have been limited outbreaks of dengue in Hawaii in the past, she said, including Pearl City in 2011 and on Maui in 2001. "Both times, however, we squashed it. During the last week, Health Department workers have done assessments of the environmental area around the home and workplaces of the affected individuals. We haven't seen any evidence of the mosquito," she said.
"There are several types of mosquitoes in the Hawaiian Islands, but only a couple that could carry a disease such as dengue. We do have the Aedes (aegypti) species of mosquitoes, and the (Aedes) albopictus, which are very prevalent on all the islands in the state. We worry about it because it can transmit some of the mosquito-borne illnesses we see elsewhere in the world," she said.
As many as 400 million people are infected annually and more than a third of the world's population living in the tropics and the subtropics are at risk for dengue.