With the dengue fever case count now at 251 on Hawaii Island since October last year, the mayor of Hawaii’s Big Island Billy Kenoi declared a state of emergency. The move is an effort get the mosquito borne outbreak under control.

Image/National Atlas of the United States
Image/National Atlas of the United States

The call for a state of emergency from Governor David Ige has been heard from the likes of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard; however, to date this has not occurred.

The Governor’s office did respond Monday to Mayor Kenoi’s declaration:

The state supports the county’s effort to break the cycle of dengue fever infection and transmission on Hawai‘i Island. Our number one priority is the health and safety of Hawai‘i’s residents and visitors. We will continue to work with county officials on a daily basis.

The state will issue an emergency proclamation if and when conditions meet the following criteria:

  • The dengue outbreak requires additional resources beyond current levels
  • The dengue outbreak has spread to other islands
  • The outbreak has expanded to include zika and other vector borne diseases
  • It is necessary to waive certain laws and regulations
  • The state determines it will need federal assistance

At this time, the state is working to release the State Health Department’s 5 percent budget restriction ($250,000) to fund eight vector control positions, one entomologist and one communications position.

The state previously released another 5 percent ($250,000) restriction so the department could fund costs incurred while responding to the onset of the dengue outbreak.