August 23, 2004
HONOLULU – The Hawaii State Department of Health has issued a physician’s alert asking local doctors to be on the look out for cases of West Nile Virus (WNV). While there are no cases of WNV currently in Hawaii, increased WNV activity along the west coast of the mainland does increase the risk of the disease entering Hawaii.
“It appears that the number of human West Nile cases in California is rapidly increasing – over 160 as of last week,” said Linda Rosen, M.D., Deputy Director of Health. “If we can prevent the disease from gaining a foothold in Hawaii for the next few months, the rest of California’s mosquito season, the chances of us getting West Nile Virus this year will be greatly reduced.”
While doctors are being asked to increase surveillance, residents can also do their part. The public is asked to look for and turn in dead birds for testing. Since birds are highly susceptible to WNV, dead birds in an area may indicate the presence of the disease. Residents can call 2-1-1 for details on how to collect and where to take bird remains.
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.
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 and by eliminating standing water to reduce the number of mosquitoes.
For More Information Contact:
Laura M. Lott
Department of Health
Phone: (808) 586-4418