Dengue fever outbreak hits residents, visitors in Hawaii

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Dengue fever is often associated with less developed countries. But, in recent weeks, it’s reared its head in Hawaii.

Hawaii’s Department of Health reports what it calls an outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease on the Big Island, Hawaii, from September through early November.

“Dengue is not endemic to Hawaii,” the health department said. “However, it is intermittently imported from endemic areas by infected travelers.”

That said, the vast majority of the cases reported through Friday — 15 out of 23 total — involved Hawaii residents, compared to visitors. The state agency noted “this is the first cluster of locally-acquired dengue fever since the 2011 outbreak on Oahu.”

People of all ages — infants, children and adults — are susceptible to dengue fever, which causes a severe flu-like illness but seldomly leads to death. Those who get it often experience high fevers and other symptoms such as headache; eye, muscle or joint pains; nausea; swollen glands or rashes, symptoms that last about a week, the World Health Organization notes.

The WHO reports that dengue infections “have grown dramatically around the world in recent decades,” with one estimate suggesting 390 million infections a year. The agency adds that about 3.9 billion people in 128 countries are at risk.

But the United States isn’t considered one of those places where a person is in high danger of coming down with dengue.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly all cases in the 48 continental states came from travelers or immigrants. The last reported such outbreak occurred in 2005 in south Texas, near the Mexican border.

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