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article imageHawaii declares state of emergency over fears of Dengue and Zika

By Karen Graham     Feb 14, 2016 in Health
Honolulu - Hawaii Governor David Ige has declared a state of emergency to fight mosquito-borne illnesses including dengue fever and the Zika virus.
In a proclamation signed on February 12, Governor Ige said, “We are doing everything we can to be prepared, to be proactive, to prevent vector-borne diseases here in Hawaii."
The emergency health proclamation comes following a decision by the centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week to put emergency centers on a Level 1 alert.
The state has been in the midst of a dengue fever outbreak, with over 250 confirmed cases, first identified on the Big Island on October 21, 2015. One of the major worries is that the mosquito that carries dengue fever also carries the Zika virus. Another concern is the flights between American Samoa, one of the Pacific Islands affected by the Zika virus, and Hawaii.
At this time, Hawaii has not seen any cases of Zika virus, Governor Ige said at a news conference Friday. Fox News is reporting that with the emergency declaration, the state could receive money from the Major Disaster Fund. This allows it the option of getting funds to control outbreaks and allows the state to waive certain laws and regulations.
Back in December, a CDC report highlighted the deficiencies in the state's vector control department. During the economic downturn, Hawaii made cuts to its mosquito control and entomology staff, going from 56 employees in 2009 to 25 positions in 2016, reports The Star,com.
Hawaii is rushing now to build up its mosquito control staff. Health officials had been searching for funding. The Department of Health plans to hire 10 new staffers with money the governor released, said Virginia Pressler, director of the department, on Friday.
The proclamation gives the state powers to take preventive measures, including spraying insecticides, regardless of a homeowner's wishes. “There are some who are holding out and not allowing us to be on their property,” Pressler said. “One of the things that this emergency declaration from the governor will allow us to do is that we can, in fact, enforce that we will come and take care of mosquitoes on a property that someone is refusing because it is a public health emergency.”
More about Hawaii, Health emergency, fight mosquitoes, dengue fever and zika, mosquitoborne disease
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