Hawaii Calls In National Guard As Dengue Fever Outbreak Grows

Hawaii’s Department of Health announced Thursday that the National Guard will be assisting the agency in a “support” role after 79 cases of dengue fever have been confirmed on the Big Island since Sept. 11.

So far, the National Guard’s involvement has been small, according to Hawaii News Now, and has included flying mosquito sprayers from Oahu to the Big Island.

In a news conference, Gov. David Ige characterized the support role by saying, “We are redeploying and mobilizing resources that we have available.”

While the Big Island is currently the only island in the state experiencing the outbreak, the Department of Health said it could last for months.

State and county officials are working to prevent the spread of infections by closing beaches in infected areas and spraying insecticides in nearby schools. Officials have also launched a “Fight the Bite” campaign to spread awareness about the outbreak and help residents avoid infection by using insect repellent and eliminating stagnant water around residential properties.

Still, the number of confirmed cases continue to rise daily, and lawmakers say officials need to do more to fight the disease.

Rep. Richard Creagan and Sen. John Green, the only physicians in the state legislature, have urged Dr. Virginia Pressler, the director of the state’s department of health, to create special teams to seek out people who may be infected, according to KITV4.

People on the Big Island, Creagan said Tuesday during a panel discussion for ThinkTech Hawaii, are “confused about the risk, confused about what they should do and they’ve been struggling with finding doctors to see them.”

“There are a lot of people that are very isolated out in the boonies on the Big Island and we want to reach them proactively,” he said.

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