April 8, 2004
HONOLULU - The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) is turning up
the heat in the battle to prevent West Nile Virus (WNV) from spreading
to Hawaii. Since cargo ships and airplanes have the potential to bring
infected mosquitoes to the islands, Federal, State and County officials
are asking the public to help stop this potentially fatal disease by
eliminating mosquito breeding areas (standing water) within a four mile
radius of Hawaii’s major ports of entry.
The Department of Health’s Vector Control Branch has completed
a survey of the immediate area surrounding the Honolulu International
Airport, and is now surveying the Honolulu Harbor area. Future mosquito
surveys are planned for Kona International Airport on Hawaii, Kahului
Airport on Maui, and the Barber’s Point harbor area on Oahu.
This survey work identifies mosquito breeding areas and the best
locations for additional mosquito traps. Mosquitoes caught in traps
around the ports of entry are being collected several times each week
and tested for WNV.
"Early detection followed quickly by aggressive suppression efforts
is the State’s best defense against WNV," said Greg Olmsted, DOH
Vector Control Chief. "Eliminating things that hold water and create a
place for mosquitoes to breed, like old tires, clogged rain gutters and
tarps can greatly reduce the chance of West Nile Virus spreading,
should it come into the State."
Residents can dispose of bulky items that could hold water and breed
mosquitoes by calling the City and County of Honolulu Refuse Division
at 523-4685 to arrange for curbside pickup. Catchment basins, storm
drains, and sumps where water routinely stands should be added to the
Department’s surveillance list for routine inspection and
treatment for mosquitoes.
West Nile Virus is a sometimes-fatal disease that is spread by the
bite of an infected mosquito. It can infect people, horses, many types
of birds, and some other animals. WNV is not transmitted from person to
person or from birds to people. Most people who become infected with
West Nile Virus will have either no symptoms or only mild ones.
However, on rare occasions, West Nile Virus infection can result in
severe and sometimes fatal illnesses.
Since infected mosquitoes transmit WNV, it is best to avoid mosquito
bites. Individuals can protect themselves by wearing long pants and
sleeves, using repellent that contains DEET, maintaining window and
door screens to keep mosquitoes out and by eliminating standing water
to reduce the number of mosquitoes as well as future generations.
For more information on West Nile Virus, visit the DOH website at
For More Information Contact:
Laura M. Lott
Department of Health
Phone: (808) 586-4418
Department of Health
Vector Control Branch
Phone: (808) 483-2535