Hawaii health officials report the dengue fever outbreak on the Big Island now stands at 260 with the additional of several new cases reported this week. Of the confirmed cases, 235 are Hawaii Island residents and 25 are visitors. 214 cases have been adults; 46 have been children, health officials note.
Two weeks ago, Governor David Ige signed an emergency proclamation, as a preventive measure against mosquito borne illnesses that include dengue fever and Zika.
In addition, the Department of Health announced that the state public health laboratory is prepared to take on the tasks of Zika virus testing not only in the state, but for areas of the Pacific that may not have the capabilities.
“Hawaii is fortunate to have an experienced and capable public health laboratory that can serve our state with timely and quality testing under emergency conditions,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “That same capability is not available in many other areas of the Pacific, and providing lab support to these areas, when we can, is critical to controlling the spread of diseases and reducing the risk of introduction to Hawaii.”
Hawaii’s State Laboratories recently provided confirmatory testing for samples from American Samoa and the Marshall Islands to support these U. S. Affiliated Pacific Island Jurisdictions in verifying disease outbreak activity.
This month, DOH began using the CDC developed real-time reverse transcriptase (rRT) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for Zika virus. With this recently developed capability, DOH provided officials in American Samoa and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (Majuro), the first laboratory evidence of Zika transmission in these two U.S. affiliated jurisdictions.
While PCR is the best test during early onset of symptoms, testing for antibody to the viruses is preferred after about a week of illness. CDC is shipping antibody test materials to Hawaii so that the department’s State Laboratories Division can establish these capabilities over the next few weeks.
According to the CDC, Hawaii has reported four travel related Zika virus cases this year to date.