Dengue fever fight comes home

Nelsa Sadaya used a simple mixture of tap water and dishwashing soap to spray dozens of potted plants surrounding her Kalihi Valley home yesterday to try to stop the spread of dengue fever.

Sadaya also learned yesterday that a similar solution of water and vegetable oil also helps kill mosquitoes — while sparing her plants.

“Mosquitoes everywhere,” Sadaya said. “This is simple.”

With the state’s mosquito-killing efforts nearly wiped out from budget cuts, state Rep. John Mizuno (D, Kalihi) and City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo, whose district includes Kalihi Valley, encouraged Sadaya and her husband, Zaldy, to fill the gap in Hawaii’s mosquito eradication efforts themselves yesterday by pouring out standing water and by spraying plants with diluted vegetable oil or dishwashing soap.

“Everyone can take their own preventative measures,” Gabbard Tamayo said. “Each and every one of us has to do our part. … This is not isolated to Kalihi Valley. This is a statewide issue.”

State: Clear standing water to avoid mosquitoes

HONOLULU – After recent rains, the state Department of Health is urging people to clear standing water from areas where mosquitoes breed.

The precaution is aimed at preventing the appearance in Hawaii of mosquito-transmitted diseases, such as dengue fever, which has increased to epidemic levels this year in parts of the United States and the tropics and subtropics.

“Reducing the mosquito population can prevent the spread of serious illness from infected persons to others by way of biting mosquitoes,” said Keith Ridley, acting director of the Health Department. “Fortunately at this time, dengue fever, West Nile virus, malaria and other mosquito-transmitted illnesses are not endemic in Hawaii. We all must do all we can to protect our islands against these possible threats to public health.”

This year, five cases of dengue fever contracted outside of the state by travelers who became ill during their stay in Hawaii were investigated by the department. In 2009, six imported cases were reported, and in 2008 there were 14 imported cases.

Mosquitoes transmit the illness to people when they bite them. Symptoms include a sudden onset of fever, severe headaches, eye, joint and muscle pain, and rash. The rash typically appears on the hands, arms, legs and feet for three to four days after the fever begins. The symptoms usually go away within one to two weeks.

Sometimes people with dengue fever can develop blood-clotting problems, a condition called dengue hemorrhagic fever, a serious illness with abnormal bleeding and very low blood pressure.

Mosquito-borne dengue hits victims with pain, fever

Andy Irons’ father said he believes that the world champion surfer died this week of dengue fever, a painful, mosquito-borne illness that causes flu symptoms and sometimes blinding pain.

Irons had been in Puerto Rico last week, where dengue fever infections are reported “year-round,” said Esther Volper, a Ph.D. candidate and dengue fever expert at the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine.

Dengue is characterized by high fever, severe headache, chills, joint and muscle pain, nausea and vomiting, eye pain and a rash.

It typically takes four to seven days for dengue fever to show its symptoms, Volper said.

Before he arrived in Puerto Rico last week, Irons had competed in Portugal, a country that does not have dengue fever, Volper said.

“If he, indeed, had dengue fever he would have had to be bitten by an infected mosquito in Puerto Rico,” Volper said.