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Schatz, Senate Democrats Urge President Obama To Take Robust & Aggressive Actions to Address the Spread of Zika Virus – Comments on Dengue Fever Outbreak

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) joined 45 Senate Democrats today and released a new letter to President Obama urging a coordinated interagency response plan to address the spread of the Zika virus both at home and abroad.

Mosquito Bite

“As the dengue outbreak continues to impact communities on Hawai‘i Island, we need more aggressive action to contain it and to stop the threat of Zika, another mosquito-borne virus that is devastating dozens of countries around the world,” said Senator Schatz. “By increasing funding for critical government research and response programs, we can make real progress toward mitigating the impact of the Zika virus abroad and preventing its spread to Hawai‘i and the United States.”

The letter calls for the President to take a number of new actions, including taking the Zika virus into consideration as the Administration coordinates, and allocates resources in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY16, and moves forward with the President’s upcoming FY17 budget request, or subsequent amendments. Additionally, Senate Democrats are urging President Obama to:

  • Develop a coordinated interagency response plan to address the Zika virus both at home and abroad;
  • Direct USAID and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to identify key gaps in the international and country-level response in order to best inform our response plan and disseminate, where appropriate, at border crossings and airports;
  • Ensure that federal agencies work with state and local partners to develop a cohesive national strategy for the monitoring, identification, and reporting of domestic Zika infections;
  • Direct HHS and the Department of Homeland Security to develop educational materials to inform travelers regarding the risk of Zika virus exposure;
  • Ramp up research efforts, including at the National Institutes of Health, to better understand the link between the Zika virus, microcephaly, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and other public health impacts and accelerate rapid diagnostic and vaccine development; and
  • Encourage federal agencies to coordinate, collaborate, or share information with their international counterparts.

The Zika Virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti species of mosquitoes, which are also found in the United States. For most, the symptoms of Zika are mild, but when pregnant women become infected, the effects can be devastating. Zika has been linked to microcephaly in developing fetuses, which can lead to below-average head size, developmental difficulties, and brain damage.

The full text of the Senate Democrats’ letter is below:

Dear President Obama:

The ongoing outbreak of the Zika virus requires an urgent and aggressive response from the United States. We are writing to urge you to develop a coordinated interagency response plan to address the spread of the Zika virus both at home and abroad, and protect pregnant women and children. We also recognize that much is still unknown about the Zika virus, and therefore urge you to consider the potential impact the Zika virus will have on the funding needs of the Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) Program at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Services Mosquito and Fly Research Unit, and other key programs in Fiscal Year (FY)17. We believe that a well-coordinated interagency response plan, coupled with strong investments in our research and response programs, is critical to addressing the Zika virus.

The Zika virus is transmitted via bites from the same kind of mosquitoes that carry dengue fever, chikungunya, and yellow fever. For most, the symptoms of Zika are mild, but when pregnant women become infected, there is early evidence its effects can be devastating. Zika has been linked to microcephaly in developing fetuses, which can lead to below-average head size, developmental difficulties, and brain damage. Scientists are also evaluating a possible link between the Zika virus and Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare condition that can cause muscle weakness and paralysis. These potential impacts have spurred the World Health Organization to declare the rise in Zika-linked birth defects and neurological conditions a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

In the Americas, it is anticipated that the outbreak could infect up to 4 million people. Because Zika is carried by low-moisture dwelling mosquitos, local transmission is predicted to spread to all countries and territories where the Aedes aegypti is found, including the United States. There is a critical and urgent need for a robust and coordinated response at all levels of government, and it is necessary to enhance efforts to control outbreaks, counter the spread of the disease, and ultimately reduce the potential for outbreaks in the United States.

Investing in the effort to combat the Zika virus abroad is one of the most important things we can do to prevent widespread transmission of the virus at home. The USAID’s EPT Program helps developing countries prevent, detect, and control the outbreak of infectious diseases. The program has been able to successfully use the technical expertise of the CDC in African, Asian, and Latin American countries to combat infectious diseases like Zika. CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID) further works to protect against the spread of diseases like the Zika virus both at home and abroad, while USDA’s Agricultural Research Services Mosquito and Fly Research Unit also plays a critical role in developing better means of mosquito detection, monitoring, and control.

We urge you to take the Zika virus into consideration as you coordinate and allocate resources in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY16 and move forward with your upcoming FY17 budget request or subsequent amendments.

At this time, it is also critically important that we take additional steps to respond to the ongoing outbreak and work to prevent additional cases of Zika from occurring in the United States. To meet this challenge we urge you to:

  • Develop a coordinated interagency response plan to address the Zika virus both at home and abroad;
  • Direct USAID and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to identify key gaps in the international and country-level response in order to best inform our response plan and disseminate, where appropriate, at border crossings and airports;
  • Ensure that federal agencies work with state and local partners to develop a cohesive national strategy for the monitoring, identification, and reporting of domestic Zika infections;
  • Direct HHS and the Department of Homeland Security to develop educational materials to inform travelers regarding the risk of Zika virus exposure;
  • Ramp up research efforts, including at the National Institutes of Health, to better understand the link between the Zika virus, microcephaly, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and other public health impacts and accelerate rapid diagnostic and vaccine development; and
  • Encourage federal agencies to coordinate, collaborate, or share information with their international counterparts.

By taking action now, we can make significant progress toward mitigating the impact of the Zika virus abroad and reduce the potential for Zika virus outbreaks in the United States. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance Offers United Voice on Bishop Museums Announcement to Sell Its Waipi‘o Valley Lands

On January 8, 2016, Bishop Museum issued a public announcement they are moving forward with the sale of the Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden in Capt. Cook and 537 acres of land in Waipi‘o Valley.

Green areas represent Bishop Museum Land.

Green areas represent Bishop Museum Land.

While the news has taken most of Hawai‘i by surprise, it is not the case for the Waipi‘o Valley community. Over the past 20 years, the Museum has periodically considered selling it’s Valley holdings, and there have been several proposals by State legislators for the state to purchase the lands, the most recent in 2014.

Since 2013, the Waipi‘o community has undergone major changes, with three of the most committed groups becoming more organized and actively seeking ways to work together collaboratively on matters that impact the Valley and surrounding communities.

In late 2015 the Waipi‘o Taro Farmers Association, the Waipi‘o Community Circle and Ha Ola o Waipi‘o Valley formed the Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance as a mechanism to reach general consensus and provide a unified voice when communicating with government officials, Bishop Museum and the general community.

Founded in 1989, the Waipi‘o Taro Farmers Association (WTFA) is the oldest active organization in Waipi‘o Valley. The Association is made up of generational taro farming families who lease the majority of Bishop Museum ’s lands in the Valley. WTFA represents the surviving edge of the Native Hawaiian culture in Waipi‘o Valley and serves as Bishop Museum ’s primary land managers and local community advisors.

Formed in 2000, at the request of 13 community members, the Waipi‘o Community Circle (the Circle), serves as a general community forum. The Waipi‘o Valley Information & Education Officer Program was created by the Circle, as were the five large interpretive signs at the rock wall near the pavilion. A small group of Circle volunteers provided general oversight of the Information & Education Officer program from 2007 until 2014 when the program moved to the Department of Parks & Recreation. This group also represents the efforts of Auntie Ku’ulei Badua who was responsible for initiating “Friends of the Waipi‘o Community Park ” (the former Rice/Thomas property, at the Waipi’o lookout).

Founded in 2014 Ha Ola o Waipi‘o Valley (Ha Ola) is a membership organization of Valley residents, farmers, cultural educators and practitioners, and Waipi‘o tour operators. The organization is guided by elected Officers with support from the County of Hawaii , the State of Hawaii , Kamehameha Schools and Friends of the Future. Ha Ola was formed to provide representation for Valley stakeholders who were not recognized in the State’s 2013 proposed Senate Bill to purchase Bishop Museum’s lands in Waipi‘o. Among Ha Ola’s current projects are River Maintenance in collaboration with WTFA, stewardship of Kamehameha Schools Valley beach parcels, eradication of Little Fire Ants in the Valley and a 2016 Kalo Festival.

The Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance, combines the strengths of all available community and advisory resources and is committed to protecting current lessees and ensuring the community has a lead voice in proactively engaging Bishop Museum in discussions about the future stewardship of its’ Waipi‘o Valley lands.

For more information about the Alliance contact:

Alliance Community Liaison: Jim Cain, Cell: 333-0457 kinglaulau@hotmail.com

Alliance Culture & Education Liaison: Ka‘iulani Pahio, Cell: 960-5272 kaiulani@kalo.org

Confirmed Dengue Fever Cases on the Big Island of Hawaii Rises to 249

The Dengue Fever outbreak on the Big Island continues and the total confirmed amount of cases rose by 1 more since the last update bringing the total amount of confirmed cases to 249:

Mosquito Bite

As of February 4, 2016*:

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 1 new case of dengue fever.  Currently,  as many as 3 of the confirmed cases to date are potentially infectious to mosquitoes. All others are no longer infectious.

Potentially infectious individuals
3 Illness onset 1/23/16 to 1/28/16
Cases no longer infectious
246 Illness onset 9/11/15 to 1/24/16
Past and present confirmed cases (Cumulative TOTAL)
249

Of the confirmed cases, 225 are Hawaii Island residents and 24 are visitors.
204 cases have been adults; 45 have been children (<18 years of age). Onset of illness has ranged between 9/11/15 – 1/28/16.

As of today, a total of 1100 reported potential cases have been excluded based on test results and/or not meeting case criteria.

Security Guards Indicted for Taking Bribes at Honolulu Airport

An Oahu grand jury indicted four Securitas law enforcement and traffic control officers for accepting bribes from taxi and shuttle drivers at the Honolulu International Airport, Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin announced.

SecuritasDeputy Attorney General Albert Cook said, “Securitas employees Ruben Corpuz Alonzo, Ranie A. Ilagan, Gay Manicia Gatchalian and Euriphides Magalang allegedly solicited and accepted more than three thousand dollars in monetary payments from taxi and shuttle drivers at the airport. In exchange the defendants provided customers to these drivers and allowed the drivers to circumvent the rules and regulations relating to taxi and shuttle drivers and ground transportation at the Honolulu International Airport.”

“These indictments followed a months-long, complex undercover investigation conducted by the FBI in conjunction with Special Agent Investigators at the Attorney General’s office. Taxi drivers complained about certain officers at the airport taking bribes and showing favoritism to those willing to pay,” said Attorney General Chin.

The four Securitas employees were indicted for bribery, a violation of section 710-1040, Hawaii Revised Statutes. This is a class B felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $25,000.00 fine.

The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are found guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Securitas receives about $33 million a year to provide security.

Updated Map Shows New Risk Areas for Potential Dengue Infection – Spraying at 2 Kona Schools Saturday

An updated map of potential areas of infection by mosquito for confirmed dengue fever cases has been released:Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

This map should not be used to exclude any areas of the island from proactive mosquito control measures. All residents islandwide are encouraged to Fight The Bite by reducing mosquito breeding grounds and protecting themselves from mosquito bites.

As of 1:00PM today the Department of Health reported 2 additional confirmed cases since yesterday and the total number of confirmed cases since the beginning of the outbreak is at 248. These cases include 224 residents and 24 visitors.

As a proactive and preventative measure, the Department of Health will be conducting spraying or treatment of the Kealakehe Elementary and Intermediate Schools in Kona this Saturday, February 6th. 

 

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Calls on Governor David Ige to Declare Hawaiʻi Island Dengue Fever Outbreak a State of Emergency

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today called on Governor David Ige to declare the Hawaiʻi Island dengue fever outbreak a state of emergency and deploy State resources, including the National Guard, to assist with mosquito abatement, public information, clearing, and providing completely free testing for those with suspected symptoms of this incurable disease.

Congresswoman Gabbard met with Hawaii County Civil Defense officials last week.

Congresswoman Gabbard met with Hawaii County Civil Defense officials last week.

“The dengue fever outbreak on the Big Island continues to worsen.  We cannot afford to wait any longer for the aggressive action necessary to combat the spread of this serious disease.  An emergency proclamation from the Governor is long overdue,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who represents the people of Hawaiʻi Island.  “There have already been 242 confirmed cases of Dengue Fever on Hawaiʻi Island, creating a public health emergency affecting our residents and visitors, and Hawaii Island’s economy.  They deserve our state’s full attention and resources to do what it takes to put an end to this outbreak, and prevent it from becoming endemic and spreading to other parts of the island and state.”

On October 21, 2015 the Dengue exposure rate on Hawaiʻi Island was 1 in 185,079.  As of today, 1 out of every 849 residents and approximately 3 out of every 50,000 visitors has contracted dengue fever.  This constitutes an average infection rate of 67 residents and 7 visitors every month since this outbreak began.  Additionally, the same mosquito that carries Dengue Fever is also a carrier of the Zika virus, which is “spreading explosively” according to UN health officials, who are currently considering declaring an international health emergency.

In speaking with Governor Ige and by written correspondence, the congresswoman called for the following action items to be addressed immediately:

1. Completely free and accessible testingfor those who suspect they have symptoms of Dengue Fever. While the cost of the test may be free, residents and visitors are still charged for visits to a physician, nurse, or clinic in order for their blood to be drawn.  This could easily be solved by ensuring there are free access points island-wide, and by deploying state or National Guard medical personnel as a mobile testing unit that can travel to both populated and remote locations across the island, draw blood, and get samples to the lab for expedited results.

2. Allocate resources to the Department of Health for development and execution of a comprehensive public information and public engagement campaign with quality review measures.  Current “Fight the Bite” efforts fall far short of providing residents and visitors with the information they need.

3. Provide a full-time entomologist on Hawaiʻi Islanddedicated to eradication, reduction, and prevention of further spread of the Dengue virus.

4. Allocate resources to hire vector control personnel,purchase more sprayers and other necessary equipment and supplies.

5. Provide free supply and distribution of Ovitraps throughout the community to empower local residents to help prevent the spread of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. World Health Organization report studies have shown that population densities can be reduced below disease-transmission thresholds with sufficiently large numbers of frequently serviced traps.

6. Appoint a Dengue Czarwho can act as the coordinator of efforts with all parties within the state, county, federal, private sector, and community to ensure the objectives are being met.

More than a third of the world’s population live in areas at risk for infection from the Dengue virus, which is a leading cause of illness and death in the tropics and subtropics. As many as 400 million people are infected annually.  Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been meeting with state leaders, Hawaiʻi County officials and Civil Defense, military personnel, experts in the private sector and at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and listening to concerned citizens of the Big Island, working to protect the people of Hawaiʻi from Dengue Fever, a debilitating disease that has no vaccine, treatment, or cure, so that the Aloha State does not remain a part of this worldwide epidemic.

Confirmed Dengue Fever Cases on the Big Island of Hawaii Rises to 237

The Dengue Fever outbreak on the Big Island continues and the total confirmed amount of cases rose by 4 more case since the last update bringing the total amount of confirmed cases to 237:

Mosquito Bite

As of January 25, 2016*:

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 4 new cases of dengue fever.  Currently, as many as 3 of the confirmed cases to date are potentially infectious to mosquitoes. All others are no longer infectious.

Potentially infectious individuals
3 Illness onset 1/16/16 to 1/17/16
Cases no longer infectious
234 Illness onset 9/11/15 to 1/13/16
Past and present confirmed cases (Cumulative TOTAL)
237

Of the confirmed cases, 214 are Hawaii Island residents and 23 are visitors.
193 cases have been adults; 44 have been children (<18 years of age). Onset of illness has ranged between 9/11/15 – 1/17/16.

As of today, a total of 985 reported potential cases have been excluded based on test results and/or not meeting case criteria.

Another Pacific Skydiver Seriously Injured on North Shore of Oahu

Another skydiver jumping with Pacific Skydiving was seriously injured this afternoon.

Skydiving injury

Details on the injury are still coming in as of this report.

Community Meeting on Development of Kealakekua State Park – Public Input Invited

Interested people are invited to review and discuss the preliminary alternatives for the management and development of Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park on Hawaii Island at a meeting on Saturday, January 30, 2016 at Konawaena Elementary School.

KealakekuaThe findings of  studies conducted for the planning will be shared, along with the alternatives that address public use, management of important resources, and proposed facilities. Kealakekua is one of the most culturally and historically significant places in Hawaii and the goal of this park planning is to balance the preservation of the cultural values and historical sites with the recreational use of the park, especially the very popular Kealakekua Bay.

  • DATE: Saturday, January 30, 2016
  • TIME: Open House 1:00 to 2:30pm, Discussion Session 2:30pm to 4:00pm
  • LOCATION: Konawaena Elementary School Cafeteria, 81-901 Onouli Road, Kealakekua

Special assistance: If accommodation of special needs is required (e.g., large print, taped materials, sign language interpretation), please contact John Kirkpatrick, Belt Collins Hawaii LLC, by January 22, 2016.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Division of State Parks in partnership with Belt Collins Hawaii (BCH) is hosting this meeting as part of the planning process for the Master Plan Update and an Environmental Impact Statement. If you are unable to attend this meeting, the materials can be reviewed on the State Parks website (http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/). Comments will be accepted until February 28, 2016.

“As we update our master planning for Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park, we’ve made a concerted effort to integrate planning for the bay and ocean recreation with the land-based park and the concerns of the local community” said Curt Cottrell, DLNR State Parks Administrator. “We know how popular this bay is with both residents and visitors and are seeking input on management and development alternatives that will balance recreational use with the historical and cultural values of this very special place,” Cottrell said.

Center for Disease Control (CDC) Issues Travel Alert for 14 Countries Because Zika Virus

CDC has issued a travel alert (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Mosquito Bite

This alert follows reports in Brazil of microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. However, additional studies are needed to further characterize this relationship. More studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.

Until more is known, and out of an abundance of caution, CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant:

  • Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
  • Women trying to become pregnant who are thinking about becoming pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.

Because specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are difficult to determine and likely to change over time, CDC will update this travel notice as information becomes available. Check the CDC travel website frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations.

Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Four in five people who acquire Zika infection may have no symptoms. Illness from Zika is usually mild and does not require hospitalization. Travelers are strongly urged to protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or IR3535. Always use as directed.
    • Insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, and IR3535 are safe for pregnant and nursing women and children older than 2 months when used according to the product label. Oil of lemon eucalyptus products should not be used on children under 3 years of age.
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents).
  • Stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.

In addition to the steps announced today, CDC is working with public health experts across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take additional steps related to Zika. CDC is developing interim guidance for pregnant women as well as sharing additional information about Zika with public health officials, clinicians and the public.  In addition, efforts are underway across HHS to develop vaccines, improved diagnostics and other countermeasures for Zika.

Background:

CDC scientists tested samples provided by Brazilian health authorities from two pregnancies that ended in miscarriage and from two infants with diagnosed microcephaly who died shortly after birth. For the two full-term infants, tests showed that Zika virus was present in the brain. Genetic sequence analysis showed that the virus in the four cases was the same as the Zika virus strain currently circulating in Brazil.  All four mothers reported having experienced a fever and rash illness consistent with Zika virus disease (Zika) during their pregnancies.

Locally acquired Zika was reported for the first time in Brazil in May 2015, and the virus has since been reported in 14 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean:  Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

According to Brazilian health authorities, more than 3,500 microcephaly cases were reported in Brazil between October 2015 and January 2016.  Some of the affected infants have had a severe type of microcephaly and some have died.  The full spectrum of outcomes that might be associated with infection during pregnancy and the factors that might increase risk to the fetus are not yet fully understood. Health authorities in Brazil, with assistance from the Pan American Health Organization, CDC, and other agencies, have been investigating the possible association between Zika virus infection and microcephaly in infants. However, additional studies are needed to further characterize this relationship. More studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.

In the past, outbreaks of Zika virus infection have occurred in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.  Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.  About one in five people infected with Zika virus will develop symptoms, which include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (pink eye). Other commonly reported symptoms include myalgia, headache, and pain behind the eyes. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon and case fatality is low. Guillain-Barré syndrome has been reported in patients with probable Zika virus infection in French Polynesia and Brazil. . Research efforts will also examine the link between Zika and GBS.

For more information about Zika:

Information about microcephaly

Information for travelers:

Information for health care providers:

Hawaii Department of Health Receives Confirmation of Zika Infection in Baby Born with Microcephaly

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has received laboratory confirmation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of a past Zika virus infection in a baby recently born with microcephaly in a hospital on Oahu. The mother likely had Zika infection when she was residing in Brazil in May 2015 and her newborn acquired the infection in the womb. Neither the baby nor the mother are infectious, and there was never a risk of transmission in Hawaii.

microcephaly“We are saddened by the events that have affected this mother and her newborn,” said DOH State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “This case further emphasizes the importance of the CDC travel recommendations released today. Mosquitos can carry serious diseases, as we know too well with our current dengue outbreak and it is imperative that we all Fight the Bite by reducing mosquito breeding areas, avoiding places with mosquitoes, and applying repellant as needed.”

To date, there have been no cases of Zika virus acquired in Hawaii. Since 2014, the department has identified six persons in the state who acquired their infection in another country. Physicians are required to report all suspected cases of Zika virus and more than 75 other reportable diseases in the state.

Physician reporting is crucial to conducting an effective disease surveillance program in Hawaii. “In this situation, an astute Hawaii physician recognized the possible role of Zika virus infection, immediately notified the Department of Health, and worked with us to confirm the suspected diagnosis,” said Dr. Park. “We rely on our exceptional medical community to be our eyes and ears in the field to control and prevent the spread of illness in Hawaii.”

The department sent a Medical Advisory to physicians statewide today as a reminder that while Zika virus is not endemic in the U.S., it can be acquired in a number of countries and travel history should always be considered.

Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.

There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika.

For more information on Zika virus go to http://www.cdc.gov/zika/ and for CDC travel
recommendations, go to http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices.

Updated Map Shows New Risk Areas for Potential Dengue Infection on the Big Island of Hawaii

An updated map of potential areas of infection by mosquito for confirmed dengue fever cases has been released:

Dengue Risk 11416This map should not be used to exclude any areas of the island from proactive mosquito control measures. All residents islandwide are encouraged to Fight The Bite by reducing mosquito breeding grounds and protecting themselves from mosquito bites.

Deadline for Films and Screenplays – Big Island Film Festival at The Farimont Orchid, Hawai’i

Now in its eleventth year, the Big Island Film Festival at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i (BIFF) invites filmmakers and screenwriters to enter their project before the final deadline, Feb. 1, 2016. Complete rules and submission guidelines are available at www.BigIslandFilmFestival.com, for entering by mail or online via www.FilmFreeway.com.

Arielle Kebbel at the 2015 Big Island Film Festival.

Arielle Kebbel at the 2015 Big Island Film Festival.

BIFF takes place May 26-30, 2016 at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i and The Shops at Mauna Lani, giving residents a unique chance to meet and talk story with the people behind the movies they see. Attended by hundreds of filmmakers and their families from Hawai’i and around the world, BIFF has become known for its unique film festival culture that is relaxed, uncrowded, and engaging, where everyone interacts like family.

In addition, BIFF’s script contest can open the door for one winning screenplay to be considered for representation by the Paradigm Agency, one of the industry’s best, with divisions in Beverly Hills, Monterey, Nashville and New York. The contest is open to all completed narrative film scripts that meet submission guidelines.

Will Estes, Tiki Torch Guy and Arielle Kebbel at the 2015 Big Island Film Festival

Will Estes, Tiki Torch Guy and Arielle Kebbel at the 2015 Big Island Film Festival

BIFF also hosts notable workshop leaders, such as NBC story consultant Jen Grisanti and screenwriter Ron Osborn of “Moonlighting” fame, among others. Last year’s celebrity honorees were Arielle Kebbel of “The Vampire Diaries” and HBO’s “Ballers” with Dwayne The Rock Johnson, and Will Estes of “Blue Bloods,” who enjoyed interacting with island audiences during in-depth interviews and informal garden receptions.

The complete BIFF experience includes not only film screenings for grown ups at The Fairmont Orchid Hawai‘i’s beautiful outdoor Plantation Estate, but free family films under the stars at The Shops at Mauna Lani, numerous networking and celebrity social events, screenwriting workshops and a closing night “Best of the Fest” with a top-rated Hawaiian music concert and movies chosen by the audience from Festival entries. “Golden Honu” Awards will be presented to the Best Feature and Best Short in Family, Student, Animated, Foreign, Hawai‘i and Audience Choice categories at a special Awards Brunch to honor the filmmakers and their works on Monday, May 30.

BIFF would like to thank sponsors The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i, The Shops at Mauna Lani, County of Hawai‘i, Dept. of R&D: CPEP Grant/Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and others.

2015 BIFF Folks

For detailed information visit www.BigIslandFilmFestival.com.

DLNR Holds Public Meetings on Banyan Drive and Kanoelehua Industrial Area Future Plans

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) will hold public meetings this month in Hilo to provide information on studies it has commissioned to assist with the Department’s planning for the future of these areas as current leases expire.

Banyan Drive

DLNR leases out state-owned lands in Hilo, Hawai‘i at Banyan Drive and in the Kanoelehua Industrial Area. Revenue from these leases supports important DLNR programs, including those conducted by the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Division of State Parks, Engineering Division, Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands, and Commission on Water Resource Management.

One of the leases at Banyan Drive has expired and has been placed on a month-to-month revocable permit. Other leases at Banyan Drive and in the Kanoelehua Industrial Area will expire in the next several years.

The public meeting will include a brief presentation on the studies and members of the public will be given the opportunity to ask questions and provide comments.  The studies are available on the DLNR Land Division website at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/ld/kanoelehua-and-banyan-drive-studies/  for public review and comment:

Banyan Drive

Goal: Support the Banyan Drive Working Group’s efforts to address the future of Banyan Drive
Objective: Obtain an understanding of conditions, limitations and opportunities for the formulation of revitalization strategies
  • Tourism Market Study – To analyze the tourism industry and determine market demand for a new hotel in Hilo.
  • Sea Level Rise Assessment – To assess sea level rise effects on Banyan Drive parcels.
  • Master Lease Feasibility Analysis – To investigate the feasibility of placing management of Reed’s Bay Hotel, Country Club Condominium, and Uncle Billy’s Hotel under a single master lease.

Kanoelehua Industrial Area

Goal: Improve management effectiveness of DLNR’s Kanoelehua lands
Objective: Obtain an understanding of conditions, limitations and opportunities for the effective management of DLNR’s Kanoelehua lands
  • Market Study – To determine market demand for industrial-commercial uses in the Hilo region for the near- and long-term.
  • Lot Consolidation Analysis – To identify opportunities for consolidating/resubdividing lots to maximize functionality and value for DLNR.
  • Master Lease Feasibility Analysis – To investigate the feasibility and desirability of placing management of DLNR’s Kanoelehua properties under a single master lease.

Both meetings will be held at:

County of Hawai‘i
Aupuni Center
101 Pauahi Street, Suite 1
Hilo, Hawai‘i 96720

  • Kanoelehua Industrial Area – January 15, 2016 at 9:00 a.m.
  • Banyan Drive – January 15, 2016 at 1:00 p.m.

Anyone who is unable to attend the meeting, may download a comment form from the website and send in written comments to the following address.  Please provide your comments by February 1, 2016.

Mail comments to:

Munekiyo Hiraga
KANOELEHUA/BANYAN DRIVE COMMENTS
305 High Street, Suite 104
Wailuku, Hawai‘i 96793

Video: Fly HI with The Maka Project – Big Island of Hawaii

The Maka crew enjoying life on the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii.

MAKA PROJECT 2

Capturing the Big Island of Hawaii from a slightly different perspective!

Full of aloha and adventure, the Island of Hawaii is an epic place to call home- especially for the Maka crew. Filmed by Joshua Lambus and Eric Franke.

Updated Map Shows New Risk Areas for Potential Dengue Infection on the Big Island of Hawaii

An updated map of potential areas of infection by mosquito for confirmed dengue fever cases has been released:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

This map should not be used to exclude any areas of the island from proactive mosquito control measures. All residents islandwide are encouraged to Fight The Bite by reducing mosquito breeding grounds and protecting themselves from mosquito bites.

Updated Map Pinpoints Dengue Fever Cases on Big Island of Hawaii

Below is a map that depicts case locations as of 1/4/2016.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

This map will be updated Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with location data provided by the State Department of Health. Locations may represent multiple cases. For the most up to date case counts and other information from the Department of Health, visit their website at health.hawaii.gov.

Surveying and spraying is being conducted at the residences of all suspect and confirmed cases, in addition to proactive spraying at nearby public facilities.

This map should not be used to exclude any areas of the island from proactive mosquito control measures. All residents islandwide are encouraged to Fight The Bite by reducing mosquito breeding grounds and protecting themselves from mosquito bites.

Confirmed Dengue Fever Cases on the Big Island of Hawaii Remains at 202

The Dengue Fever outbreak on the Big Island continues and the total amount of confirmed cases remains at 202.
Mosquito BiteAs of January 4, 2016*:

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 0 new cases of dengue fever.  Currently, as many as 5 of the confirmed cases to date are potentially infectious to mosquitoes. All others are no longer infectious.

Potentially infectious individuals
5 Illness onset  12/25/15 to 12/27/15
Cases no longer infectious
197 Illness onset 9/11/15 to 12/24/15
Past and present confirmed cases (Cumulative TOTAL)
202

Of the confirmed cases, 182 are Hawaii Island residents and 20 are visitors.
164 cases have been adults; 38 have been children (<18 years of age). Onset of illness has ranged between 9/11/15 – 12/27/15.

As of today, a total of 772 reported potential cases have been excluded based on test results and/or not meeting case criteria.

For a map of potential areas of infection by mosquito for confirmed dengue fever cases, click HERE**. (Updated December 30, 2015)

For Hawaii Island Dengue Fever Unified Command Updates, click HERE. (Updated December 2, 2015)

USGS Releases New Photos of Active Lava Flow

Scattered breakouts remain active northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, with the farthest activity about 6 km (3.7 miles) from the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

Some of these breakouts are active along the northern boundary of the flow field, and are burning several small patches of forest - creating the smoke plumes visible near the center of the photograph.  (Click to enlarge)

Some of these breakouts are active along the northern boundary of the flow field, and are burning several small patches of forest – creating the smoke plumes visible near the center of the photograph. (Click to enlarge)

The breakout that began in late November continues to feed lava to the northern boundary of the flow field via a new lava tube. The trace of this new tube is easily visible in the thermal images.

This view looks northeast, and the breakouts along the forest boundary are visible near the top edge of the photograph.

This view looks northeast, and the breakouts along the forest boundary are visible near the top edge of the photograph.

An HVO geologist collects a molten lava sample for chemical analysis, scooping up a bit with the rock hammer to then drop in the water bucket to quench it. Puʻu ʻŌʻō is visible in the distance.

 

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

This view shows the north rim of Kīlauea Caldera, with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park’s Jaggar Museum perched at the rim for ideal views of summit activity.

A clear day at Kīlauea's summit. (Click to enlarge)

A clear day at Kīlauea’s summit. (Click to enlarge)

Mauna Kea is in the distance, partially obscured by clouds, and Mauna Loa’s Northeast Rift Zone extends off the left edge of the photo.

The sun angle was ideal yesterday to show the complex texture on the surface of the lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater at Kīlauea’s summit.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Spattering was active in the southeast portion of the lake. For scale, the lake is about 230 meters or 755 feet across.

Dengue Fever Risk Forces Hawaii State Land Closure For Public Safety – Milolii Village and Honomalino Bay Areas Covered

For the safety of everyone, due to the dengue fever outbreak at Milolii, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has closed to the public all State unencumbered lands in the immediate vicinity of Milolii village and Honomalino Bay.  These include the parcels designated by Tax Map Key numbers: (3) 8-9-003:001 and (3) 8-9-004:007.

(3) 8-9-003:001

(3) 8-9-003:001

We’re recommending the closure of this area to all but essential personnel and residents of the areas.  This closure follows Hawaii County’s closure of Milolii Beach Park until further notice so crews led by Hawaii County Civil Defense can conduct mosquito control and pesticide treatments. State and county experts are now calling Milolii a hot spot in the dengue fever outbreak on the Big Island.

(3) 8-9-004:007

(3) 8-9-004:007

The latest number of confirmed dengue fever cases on the Big Island has risen to 181 as of Friday afternoon, including 163 Big Island residents and 18 visitors.

Entry into closed lands is a violation of Hawaii Administrative Rule Sec. 13-221-4 and Hawaii Revised Statute 171-6, and is subject to a penalty of up to $5,000 for the first offense. 

Signs will be posted at various access points warning people of the hazardous conditions.