Mosquitoes really do get a bad reputation, although to be fair, it’s kind of warranted. It’s true, they’re just trying to live, and if that implies sucking blood, it’s not really their fault, is it? However, as the threat of the Zika virus has reached an international panic status, mosquitoes cause Dengue Fever epidemic in Hawaii.
The biggest epidemic since the ‘40s
Just like the Zika virus epidemic that has even caused Olympic athletes to drop out because of the fear of catching the disease, the Dengue Fever virus is spread by the notorious Aedes aegypti mosquito. They often live wherever they can find shallow bodies of water, like tires or cut up plastic bottles.
After the initial outbreak of the Dengue Fever, Hawaii’s Big Island announced a state of emergency this Monday, as 252 cases of the disease have been recorded over the past few months, leading to the largest Dengue Fever outbreak since the ‘40s.
Symptoms for the disease include powerful headaches, rashes, pain in the eyes, joints, and muscles, as well as severe rashes. While the fever can dissipate in between one and two weeks, the other symptoms can hang around for months.
Hawaii found itself in this situation not because the disease is native to the islands, but because the state’s natural tropical environment makes the mosquitoes proliferate like crazy. This has caused the Health Department to issue a few mandates in order to stop or at least slow down the outbreak.
Hawaii Health Department’s counter measures
First of all, in an attempt to at least partly quarantine the insects, plastic bottles and tires are now supposed to be disposed of in landfills. It is unknown whether this will work or not, but the officials are doing the best they can.
Second of all, the state is ready to declare an emergency in case more resources are needed to fight against the illness, if the disease spreads to another island, or if the mosquitoes also start spreading Zika.
Additionally, the state will release 5% of the Health Department’s budget, funding 8 positions in charge of mosquito control, one in charge of communications, and one entomologist. This budget will amount to around $250,000.
Another 5% restriction to the Health Department’s funds will be released so that the department can support the costs of the outbreak, including those of outreach and awareness programs, as well as disposing of tires and plastic bottles.
Image source: Wikimedia