What You Need To Know About Dengue

Earlier this month, Governor David Ige declared a state of emergency to fight mosquito borne illnesses including dengue fever and the Zika virus.  We urge all of our Hawaii Island members to take preemptive measures to prevent from getting or spreading the virus.

Below are a few questions and answers about Dengue fever:

Are the symptoms of dengue fever the same for everyone?

Some people who get dengue fever won’t develop any symptoms. Others will experience very severe symptoms, including abnormal bleeding and low blood pressure.

Severe dengue could be deadly, which is why state health officials are urging anyone who suspects they might have dengue fever to see a doctor.

Health officials say they haven’t seen any cases of severe dengue in this outbreak. All reported cases have been mild. But even a mild case can keep someone out of work or school for a week. Symptoms of dengue fever include fever, headache, eye and joint pain, and rash.

In other words, said Dr. Melissa Viray, state deputy epidemiologist, “It can run the gamut.”

Can someone get dengue fever more than once?

Dengue fever is a virus, which means once you have it, you develop an immunity.

But there are four types of dengue fever, so that means when you get dengue fever, you only develop immunity to one type of of the virus.

Technically, you could get dengue fever four times – once for each type. But that’s rare. And the good news is that the Hawaii cases have so far all been one type – called type 1 dengue.

Is there a dengue fever vaccine?

There is a vaccine, and it’s just been made available in Mexico. It’s not in the United States, though – and health officials aren’t exactly clamoring for it. That’s because while dengue fever is an occasional concern here in the islands, it’s a huge public health threat across central and Latin America.

What can be done to reduce the risk of getting dengue fever?

Health officials say you can do two things to protect yourself: Guard against bites and reduce mosquito populations on your property. That means wearing mosquito repellent, and long pants and long sleeves outdoors. To reduce mosquito populations, get rid of standing water on your property and clean out your gutters.

What should I do if I think I have dengue fever?

State health officials say anyone who suspects they might have dengue fever should see a doctor. That’s because while most people experience mild dengue fever symptoms, some people can develop severe dengue. Again, Hawaii hasn’t seen any cases of severe dengue, yet. But officials say residents shouldn’t take any chances.

“We want people to seek care,” said Viray, of the Health Department.

Are family pets at risk of developing dengue fever?

Family pets can get the dengue fever virus through mosquito bites, but they won’t develop any symptoms and they can’t pass the virus onto humans or other pets.

Is there anything you can do after getting bitten by a mosquito to reduce your chances of getting dengue?

If you’ve been bitten by an infected mosquito, you could get dengue — and there’s nothing you can do to reduce your risk. Health officials say your best bet is preventing bites in the first place. Use mosquito repellent, wear protective clothing, drain or dump standing water, and fix window screens.

If you get dengue, does the virus stay in your system and are there residual effects?

The dengue virus stays in a person’s blood for about a week, and then the body produces antibodies that get rid of the virus. Those antibodies remain in a person’s body forever.

There are no well-established long-term effects from dengue fever, according to health officials. However, some patients do report some effects, like hair loss, chronic fatigue and depression.

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