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Dengue fever dangerous

by Rody Rodriguez, staff writer

The mosquito was accidentally introduced to Hawai‘i in 1829. In the mid-19th century they were so rampant in the islands that Mark Twain wrote about them, jokingly: “There are a good many mosquitoes around tonight … but it is a source of unalloyed satisfaction to me to know that the two millions I sat down on a minute ago will never sing again.”

Well, perhaps he wasn’t joking. Nonetheless, even though the mosquito population has seen a large decline since Twain’s day, mosquitoes can still be a menace to those who life in the islands.
In 2001-02, O‘ahu, Mau‘i, Kaua‘i and the Big Island experienced an outbreak of dengue fever, a viral disease common to South Pacific islands that is transmitted through the bite of certain mosquitoes. It was the first time in 50 years that the Hawaiian Islands had experienced any cases of dengue, and the first time O‘ahu had ever reported one. Despite official pronouncements that the disease is now eradicated from O‘ahu and contained on the other islands, a reintroduction could occur easily.

Dengue’s symptoms include high fever, severe headaches, body and joint pains, vomiting, rash, and eye pain. Most people become ill four to seven days after being infected with the disease, but the onset can range from 3 to 14 days. There is no specific vaccine and no treatment regimen other than fluids, rest, and aspirin.

There are four different types of dengue viruses. The most severe version of the virus is dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), which creates blood clots and hemorrhaging within the body. However, fatalities only occur in 5 percent of all dengue cases.

For more information on dengue fever, visit the Hawai‘i Department of Health at


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