Dengue fever outbreak in Hawaii has global impact
In 2015, more than 150 people have tested positive for dengue fever on Hawaii Island. While the covering arms and legs and using mosquito repellant reduces the risk of contracting dengue, and a dengue vaccine has been approved for use in Mexico, the disease is now endemic in at least 125 countries.
"Experts say there’s no need to change your travel plans, but warn that we should be prepared for more dengue in the US and around the world. 'Hawaii is a piece of a much bigger phenomenon that’s happening globally,' says Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
"Hotez predicts that the Gulf Coast will be one of the next big global hot spots for dengue. Two mosquito species, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, transmit dengue. Hawaii only has Aedes albopictus, while parts of the Gulf Coast have both. Southern California also has both species, although dengue hasn’t arrived there yet, [Dawn Wesson, an associate professor of tropical medicine at Tulane University School of Public Health in New Orleans] says.
"It’s not just dengue that we need to plan for. 'We’ve seen a global explosion of viruses transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes … called arboviruses,' Hotez says. Experts predict that two other arboviruses – chikungunya and zika – will soon start popping up in same regions where we’re seeing dengue. In 2014, Florida saw the first local transmission of chikungunya. Wesson says she believes the advanced health system in the US should help prevent massive outbreaks, but poorer nations won’t be so fortunate."