CDC expresses concerns in new report about dengue fever outbreak

Photo: Hawaii Department of Health

The number of confirmed dengue fever cases on the Big Island stands at 153 as of Tuesday.

That’s up four from Monday.

After spending a couple of weeks on the Big Island, the Centers for Disease Control released its report on how the state is responding to the dengue outbreak.

The CDC brought up several serious concerns.

The CDC says “the outbreak response is extremely well organized and serves as a model for others.”

That being said, there are areas of concern the state is working to address.

The most pressing concern is something we reported on several weeks ago, and that is general staffing.

The CDC report sites a staff that is working diligently, but getting fatigued.

It also notes more epidemiologists are needed. Those are disease specialists.

Right now there are only two for the entire state. There is only one full time communications specialist which the CDC labels as “woefully inadequate”.

The state did spent $100,000 to hire an outside public relations firm to assist, and says it is working to implement as many recommendations as possible.

“Currently with our response right now. I think we are meeting responses in terms of the surveys monitoring and identifying what type of mosquito varieties to exist in the areas. But as the response expands as it possibly could, we may need additional support from other agencies like the Department of Agriculture for example as well as the CDC,” said Keith Kawaoka of the Department of Health.

The CDC says long term with so many people traveling here we should also expect to possibly see more vector borne diseases transmitted by insects like mosquitoes.

It also says insect expertise at the Hawaii Department of Health does not exist.

The department is asking for more funding to fill more positions

Kawaoka says CDC representatives will remain on the Big Island for the next couple of weeks.

They will assist in providing additional communications support working directly with Big Island residents and through the local media.

 

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