You may have heard there is an outbreak of Dengue Fever in Hawaii; specifically on Hawaii Island (the Big Island). This raises two questions: What the heck is Dengue Fever, and should I cancel or reconsider a trip to Hawaii?
The Centers for Disease Control says, by comparison, this is not a “huge outbreak” and travelers do not need to change their Hawaii plans. According to the Hawaii Department of Health, there have been 130 confirmed cases since September 11, with only 16 of them being visitors. The CDC says the risk is low, especially if travelers take basic precautions, like wearing mosquito repellent and recognizing symptoms.
Dengue Fever is caused by any one of four related viruses transmitted by mosquitos. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine against the tropical infection, and no specific medications to treat it. That means prevention is key, which means protection from mosquito bites. Use repellent on your skin, indoors and out. Long sleeves, pants and socks (which you probably weren’t planning to pack) offer additional protection. Use air conditioning rather than ventilation from open doors or windows, consider sleeping under a mosquito net, and avoid being outdoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitos are most active.
If you find yourself not feeling well while you’re on the Big Island (or any of the many areas where Dengue Fever is common), there are symptoms you should watch for:
- Severe headache
- Severe eye pain
- Join, muscle or bone pain
- Mild bleeding (e.g.: nose or gum bleed, or easy bruising)
If you notice these symptoms, you should visit a doctor or clinic. However, you should immediately visit an emergency room if any of these warning signs appear:
- Severe abdominal pain or persistent vomiting
- Red spots or patches on the skin
- Bleeding from nose or gums
- Vomiting blood
- Black, tarry stools
- Pale, cold, or clammy skin
- Difficulty breathing
If you think you may be symptomatic, the Centers for Disease Control recommends plenty of rest and fluids while using analgesics with acetaminophen, avoiding ibuprofen, Naproxen, and aspirin.
While the mild outbreak in Hawaii should not alter your travel plans, it always pays to check the CDC Travel Health Notices before any trip. Pack accordingly, take precautions, and you should be fine.
Just in case you need more convincing to visit Hawaii, check out this and other beautiful Big Island beaches on Best-Beaches.com!