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VIDEO – Governor Ige Responds to Dengue Fever Outbreak

Ige on DengueThis morning at the State Capital, Governor Ige along with Mayor Kenoi and Hawaii County Civil Defense Administer Daryll Oliveira met this morning and the following video was livestreamed on the Governor’s website:

Recently a letter went out to Maui residents informing them that a case of Dengue Fever was confirmed on that island.

Dengue Fever Case in Maui

Big Island Police Investigating Shooting at Popular Surf Spot

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating an early morning shooting in Hilo that left a man hospitalized.

At about 4:35 a.m. Sunday (January 31), police responded to several reports of gunshots in the Honoliʻi lookout area. Responding officers observed evidence of a shooting and closed off Kahoa Road to await detectives and crime scene specialists to process the scene.

Honoli'iAt around the same time, patrol officers at Hilo Medical Center on an unrelated call were informed by hospital staff that a shooting victim had arrived at the emergency room. They learned that a 31-year-old Kona man had been taken to the hospital by a private vehicle following the shooting at the lookout.

The victim underwent surgery and was later transferred to an Oahu hospital in guarded condition for further treatment.

Detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section are continuing the investigation, which is classified as a second-degree attempted murder.

Police ask anyone who may have witnessed the shooting to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Clarence Davies at 961-2383 or clarence.davies@hawaiicounty.gov or Detective Todd Pataray at 961-2382 or todd.pataray@hawaiicounty.gov.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island wide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.00. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers does not record calls or subscribed to any Caller ID service. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Video – Aerial Survey of Big Island Forests Shows Rapid Ohia Death Spread

Recent aerial surveys of 810,000 acres of Hawaii Island forests showed that a fungal infestation of ohia trees is much greater than earlier thought.

ohia deathUsing a helicopter and specialized survey equipment, surveyors from a collaboration of state, county and federal agencies flew over 81,000 acres, January 11 – 15, 2016.  Satellite imagery of ohia forests in 2014 resulted in an estimate of 15,000 acres infected by this newly identified disease. The latest survey, pending ground verification, estimates the infection has now spread to some 34,000 acres of the ohia forest on the Big Island.

Rapid Ohia Death Media Clips 12-23-15 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Philipp LaHaela Walter, the State Resource and Survey Forester for the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) said, “We used two surveyors at a time and flew a total of 8 ½ hours over state, federal and private lands covering about two-thirds of the Big Islands’s ohia forests. Our next steps are to cover the rest of the ohia forests with follow-up flights and to ground-truth the aerial operation. One of our priorities will be to double-check the Kohala area, where Rapid Ohia Death may have been detected for the first time by our aerial survey.”

A team of experts from DLNR/DOFAW, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, the Big Island Invasive Species Committee and the National Park Service/Hawaii Volcanoes National Park conducted the aerial survey. The University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service and the USDA Agricultural Research Service assisted with planning. In 2014 USDA researchers identified the pathogen that causes the disease.

Dr. Flint Hughes, with the USDA Forest Service commented, “Unfortunately Rapid Ohia Death is spreading much quicker than we had hoped.  The aerial surveyors noted ohia trees with no leaves or brown leaves, likely impacted by the disease; as well as ohia trees which have been dead for a longer time and those that have been affected by either drought or VOG. It’s important that we differentiate the causes of tree deaths and continue to carefully and closely monitor the spread of Rapid Ohia Death to aid in reducing its spread on Hawaii Island and around the state.”

Ohia forests cover approximately 865,000 acres of land across the state and are considered the primary species providing habitat for countless plants, animals and invertebrates. These forests  protect watersheds that provide significant agriculture and drinking water across the state.

“It’s sad but not unexpected that we have a confirmed case of Rapid Ohia Death in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We are very concerned about the impacts to our cherished ohia that thrives throughout the park, and we will continue to implement the stringent measures developed by our interagency partners to prevent the spread of this devastating disease. We will also continue to sample trees throughout the park,” Orlando said.

Dr. J.B. Friday, the extension forester with the UH College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources Cooperative Extension Service explained, “We know that the state Department of Agriculture’s moratorium on the transport and shipment of ohia plants and parts is having a positive effect on curbing the spread. It’s impossible to determine whether the ban on ohia shipping is 100% effective and that’s why we are trying to get the word out to all forest users, nurseries, and lei makers that Rapid Ohia Death is fast killing what is considered one of the most important forest trees in Hawaii.”

Research into treatments for the particular fungus that causes Rapid Ohia Death continues at the USDA Agricultural Research Service lab in Hilo. Investigation into how it spreads is also being conducted with potential culprits being: insects, underground via roots, on small wood or dust particles, on clothing and shoes, and possibly on animals. Ultimately scientists hope that by identifying what is spreading the fungus they’ll be able to mitigate its devastating impacts.

DLNR Holds Public Hearing for Proposed Changes Affecting Government Forest Reserve Lands on the Island of Hawaii

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Division of Forestry and Wildlife is holding a public hearing to provide the public the opportunity to present comments on proposed changes to government forest reserve lands on the island of Hawaiʻi.

The hearing will start at 5:30 pm on Friday, February 12, 2016, at the Kūhiō Hale, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands West Hawai‘i district office, 64-756 Māmalahoa Hwy, Kamuela, Hawai‘i 96743.

DLNR land 1The proposed changes are as follows:

  1. Withdrawal of Tax Map Key (3) 4-6-011:040, comprising approximately 238 acres from Hāmākua Forest Reserve, Hāmākua, Hawaiʻi.
  • The area proposed for withdrawal from Hāmākua Forest Reserve was developed into an educational and recreational site, Camp Honokaia by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) under a long term lease.
  • In 2004, the parcel was the subject of a land exchange between the State of Hawai‘i and the BSA involving private land in Waikele, O‘ahu, for public lands located on the islands of O‘ahu, Kaua‘i, and Hawai‘i.
  • Given that the land exchange between the BSA and the State of Hawai‘i has been completed, the Division seeks to formally withdraw TMK (3) 4-6-011:040 which is no longer State land, from the Hāmākua Forest Reserve.
  1. Addition of Tax Map Keys: (3) 4-3-010:009 and (3) 4-4-015:002 comprising approximately 6,887 acres to Mauna Kea Forest Reserve, Hāmākua, Hawaiʻi.
  • The areas proposed for addition to Mauna Kea Forest Reserve were originally encumbered by leases issued by DLNR to multiple private entities for pasture purposes.
  • In 2001, DLNR issued a non-exclusive easement to the Department of Transportation for the area in question to mitigate for impacts to Palila Critical Habitat (PCH) by the Saddle Road Improvement Project.
  • Beginning in 2004, and continuing presently, the Division of Forestry and Wildlife has conducted a forest restoration program on the proposed addition for the purpose of providing long-term habitat for Palila at considerable effort and with significant progress.
  • To address concerns raised by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, as documented in their revised 2009 Biological Opinion, and to retain the progress made in terms of Palila habitat restoration, DOFAW requested that the mitigation areas be formally withdrawn from the pasture leases and set aside for addition to Mauna Kea Forest Reserve.
  • The Board of Land and Natural Resources approved this action at its meetings in 2009, 2010, and 2015.
  1. Addition of Tax Map Key (3)7-5-001:022 comprising approximately 17 acres to Honua‘ula Forest Reserve, North Kona, Hawaiʻi.
  • The area being proposed for addition to Honua‘ula Forest Reserve was previously encumbered by a revocable permit issued by DLNR Land Division for pasture purposes to a private individual.
  • The permit was terminated by the Board of Land and Natural resources on December 09, 2012.  Upon the cancellation of the permit, DOFAW expressed interest in taking over management of this land because the transfer of this parcel could provide a potential access corridor to the forest reserve.
  1. Addition of Tax Map Key (3) 3-9-001: portions of 013 and (3) 3-9-001:018, comprising approximately 40 acres to the Humuʻula Section of the Hilo Forest Reserve, North Hilo, Hawaiʻi.
  • The proposed addition to Hilo Forest Reserve is currently set-aside to DOFAW “for potential demonstration forest projects.”  However, there is no formal land designation category called “demonstration forest” in the Departments land use designation system.
  • As such, DOFAW proposes to add the subject lands to the currently existing Hilo Forest Reserve.  This action would merely change the designation of the area from a “demonstration forest” to “Forest Reserve,” placing the area under the guidance of statutes and rules associated with the Forest Reserve System.
  • DOFAW currently has management jurisdiction of these lands, and would retain jurisdiction with their transfer to the Forest Reserve System.  Management objectives for the area would not change.
  1. Addition of Tax Map Keys (3) 4-9-001: portion of 007, (3) 4-9-013: portion of 001, (3) 4-9-014:001, 003, 004, 005, 008, 009, 010, 011, 013, 014, 017, 020, 021, and 022, comprising approximately 3,431 acres to the Waimanu section of the Kohala Forest Reserve, Hāmākua, Hawaiʻi.
  • A National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) was established at Waimanu Valley on the Kohala Coast of the island of Hawai‘i in 1978.
  • The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and coastal States for long-term research, water quality monitoring, education and coastal stewardship.  Public lands were withdrawn from the Kohala Forest Reserve, and the State of Hawaii acquired 13 additional privately owned parcels of land in Waimanu Valley for inclusion into the NERR.
  • However in 1996, Waimanu Valley was officially withdrawn from the NERR System. As such, DOFAW now proposes to add the subject lands back into Kohala Forest Reserve.
  • This action would merely change the designation of the area from a “National Estuarine Research Reserve” to “Forest Reserve,” placing the area under the guidance of statutes and rules associated with the Forest Reserve System.

Maps of these forest reserve areas can be found online at:  http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/public-hearing/

All interested persons are urged to attend the public hearing to present relevant information and individual opinion for the DLNR to consider.  Persons unable to attend or wishing to present additional comments may mail written testimony postmarked no later than February 26, 2016, to the Forestry Program Manager, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, 1151 Punchbowl St., #325, Honolulu, HI  96813.

Any person requesting an auxiliary aid or service (i.e. large print materials, sign language interpreters) is asked to contact Jan Pali at 808-587-4166 or through the Telecommunication Relay Service at 711 by February 5, 2016.

After compiling the input from the public hearing and other testimonies received through February 26, 2016, DOFAW will present a summary of public testimony, staff analyses and recommendations for further actions to the Board of Land and Natural Resources.  Based on the public testimony received, the Board of Land and Natural Resources will decide whether to proceed with or change their previous recommendation for the proposed changes to the Forest Reserve System.

Should the Board opt to proceed with the current recommendations, DLNR will send the items to the Governor for final approval via Executive Order.

If approved, the lands would be formally added to Government Forest Reserve status and the DOFAW Forestry Program would assume primary responsibility for the management and stewardship of the subject lands.

Combined Cancer Statistics Mask the Truth for Native Hawaiians

Papa Ola Lōkahi, the Native Hawaiian Health Board, is joining with other Hawaiian health organizations and health care providers to emphasize the importance of research and data that accurately describes the health and wellness status for Kānaka Maoli, Hawai‘i’s indigenous community.  We are gravely concerned to see cancer data for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPI) reported in combination with Asian Americans (AA) in the just-released ACS Cancer Facts & Figures 2016, which includes a Special Section:  Cancer in Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.

Cancer in Hawaiians

Hawaiian health advocates have fought for nearly 30 years to raise awareness about the pronounced cancer health disparities among Native Hawaiians, some of which are the highest in the nation and certainly the highest in our state. The Hawaiian congressional delegation and health community contributed to the revision of the Office of Budget & Management Directive of 1997(OMB 15), which charges federal agencies, institutes and offices with disaggregating AA and NHPI data.  Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act requires that all federal data be collected and reported in accordance with the accepted population identifiers.

“Reporting aggregated data sabotages the gains we’ve made over the past 3 decades.  It changes the mo‘olelo, or story, for us Kānaka Maoli,” asserts Dr. Noa Emmett Aluli, Molokai family physician and Vice-President of the ‘Ahahui o nā Kauka, Association of Native Hawaiian Physicians.  “Unfortunately, it can lead to inappropriate education, treatment strategies, and misallocation of resources and efforts.”

Examples of community harm that is perpetuated by aggregating NH and AA cancer data:

The Special Section on AANHPI, 2016 reports that “Cancer is the leading cause of death among AANHPIs…”  In fact, while Native Hawaiians carry the highest cancer mortality burden in Hawai‘i, heart disease is the leading cause of death among Native Hawaiians (Aluli et al, 2010).

The Special Section also reports “Breast cancer incidence and death rates are reported to be 30 to 50%lower for AANHPI.”  Breast cancer incidence among Hawaiian women is 24% higher than for whites, 60% higher than for Chinese, and 12.4% higher than for Japanese.  Breast cancer mortality rates in Hawai‘i are 31% higher than for whites, 127% higher than for Chinese, and 85% higher than for Japanese.  The rates are even more disparate among Pacific Islanders, such as women from the Marshall Islands (Hawaii Cancer Facts and Figures 2010).

“We understand researchers’ concern for stable data sets to produce reliable data, but Hawai‘i has participated in the Nation Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program since SEER’s inception.  As such, significant incidence and mortality data on Native Hawaiians in Hawai‘i are available,” clarifies Dr. Kathryn Braun, co-Principal Investigator of ‘Imi Hale Native Hawaiian Cancer Network (‘Imi Hale).

Hardy Spoehr, former Executive Director of Papa Ola Lōkahi, has been a long standing champion of this issue. “It’s disappointing that aggregation of NH data with that of AA is still prevalent in federal data reporting.  American Cancer Society is an internationally respected organization and needs to be a leader in this realm of data presentation, not a perpetuator of harmful reporting practices that have made it so difficult for the Hawaiian community to raise awareness about its cancer burden.”

Misrepresented data promotes harmful perceptions about the health status and health needs of the Hawaiian community. All minority and small groups who are not equitably represented in national data collection and reporting are victims of this harmful practice.

Papa Ola Lōkahi will remain diligent about raising awareness about this and we ask our local and national partners and colleagues to do the same.

Conference – Science Behind Medical Marijuana at Psychopharmacology

A leading researcher on the science of medical marijuana will speak as part of a conference at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach Hotel, Waikiki on O`ahu February 3-5. Although the conference is targeted toward health care providers, the public is welcome to register.

Marijuana Book

Dr. Kevin Hill, author of “The Unbiased Truth About The World’s Most Popular Weed,” will discuss recent statistics, why marijuana is complicated and marijuana myths and the science behind them. Dr. Hill is the director of the Substance Abuse Consultation Service at McLean Hospital, the largest psychiatric hospital affiliated with Harvard Medical School. He also is on faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

The presentation is part of the 2016 Psychopharmacology Conference presented jointly by the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy (DKICP), the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) and the American Association of Professional Nurses (AAPN). The main topics for the three-day seminar are depression, substance abuse disorders and medical marijuana.

“As the State Department of Health in Hawaiʻi begins considering applications for medical marijuana dispensaries, we’re fortunate to access a leading national clinical and research expert on a topic that’s certainly not new to Hawaiʻi,” said Karen Pellegrin, DKICP director of continuing education and strategic planning. “Many people, professionals and lay people alike are looking for answers in order to understand the science behind its use. Dr. Hill is well qualified to provide some substance to the conversation.”

Additional speakers include:

  • Dr. Brett Lu, attending physician of treatment-resistant and geriatric psychiatry consult clinics, Queen’s Medical Center, and associate professor, Department of Psychiatry, UH Manoa. Dr. Lu will talk about pharmacogenomics, new procedures for depression treatment and provide a general workup for difficult-to-treat depression.
  • Dr. Karen A. Miotto, director of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Addiction Psychiatry Service, and associate professor, UCLA’s Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences. Dr. Miotto will give an update on alcohol pharmacotherapy and discuss challenges in treating prescription medication-use disorders.

    Cost to attend is $200 per day, or $500 for all days, with a 20 percent discount for kama`aina. The event is eligible for APA CE, ACPE, and CME credit.

    To register, call (808) 933-2914 or online at http://pharmacy.uhh.hawaii.edu/ce/ceevents.php

Hawaii Civil Defense Releases Updated Map Pinpointing Dengue Fever Cases

This is a Dengue Fever information update for Friday, January 15th at 1:10PM.

As of 1:00PM today the Department of Health reported 5 additional confirmed cases since yesterday.  The total number of confirmed cases since the beginning of the outbreak remains at 223.  These cases include 201 residents and 22 visitors.

Dengue is a virus that is transmitted from an infected person to a mosquito, which can then infect another person. Dengue fever cannot be spread directly from person to person. Of the 223 confirmed cases, 5 are recent and could be in the stage of their illness in which they can infect mosquitoes.

Symptoms of dengue include a high fever, intense headache and joint pain, and rash on the arms. If you suspect you may have dengue, contact your health care provider and remain indoors to prevent the possibility of being bitten and infecting mosquitoes.

The Department of Health is spraying and treating areas connected to confirmed cases to reduce mosquito populations. In addition, Civil Defense teams are inspecting areas of high mosquito presence reported by the community. If teams visit your home while you are away, they will leave a note – please follow the instructions on the note to contact the appropriate agency.

While these efforts lower risk by reducing mosquito populations, the most effective method to reduce the spread of dengue is for everyone to avoid and prevent mosquito bites. Fight The Bite by wearing clothing that minimizes exposed skin, using mosquito repellant, and avoiding activities in areas of high mosquito concentration during the early morning and late afternoon periods when mosquito activity is greatest.

For additional information on dengue and preventing the spread, go to health.hawaii.gov or call the Department of Health at 974-6001. Everyone’s help and assistance with this outbreak is much needed and appreciated.


Below is a map that depicts case locations as of 1/15/2016.

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 athealth.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.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

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.

Hawaii Civil Defense Confirms Dengue Fever Cases in Waipio Valley

I just got off the phone with Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Chief Darryl Oliveira and he confirmed that the reason Civil Defense has closed access to Waipio Valley to only residents is because there have been confirmed cases of Dengue Fever in residents that live in the valley.  Some residents are part time residents and others live there all the time. (UPDATE – 6 confirmed cases relating to the area of Waipio Valley)

Department of Health Vector Control workers will begin working in the valley to eradicate mosquitoes, however, the valley is a unique area that does have a high density population of the mosquitoes that can can transmit dengue fever.

Center for Disease Control (CDC) will be back on the island this month and will be working in the Ho’okena Beach Park, Miloli’i area and now possibly Waipio Valley.

The county has not opened any of the closed parks and they do not have any date set on when the parks may open.  Civil Defense is aware of the impact this will have upon the residents of the valley, the taro farmers in the valley and as well as the tour companies that frequent the valley.

Department of Health to Hold Weekly Dengue Information Sessions

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) will hold weekly dengue information sessions in Kona and Hilo to provide timely updates and answer questions from the community about the Hawaii Island dengue outbreak.

Mosquito Bite

Participants will learn about the prevalence, transmission, and symptoms of dengue fever; outbreak response efforts; how to interpret case counts and maps; and the best ways to fight the bite.

Weekly sessions will be held every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. at the State Office Building, Rooms A, B, and C located at 75 Aupuni St. in Hilo, and at the West Hawaii Civic Center, Mayor’s Conference Room located at 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy. in Kailua-Kona.

Beginning Jan. 19, weekly sessions will be held every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. at Yano Hall located at 82-6165 Mamalahoa Hwy. in Captain Cook.

These sessions are open to the public and scheduled to continue through February.

Contact the Department of Health Hawaii District Health Office at 974-6001 for more information.

EPA Finds Puna Geothermal Venture Violated Chemical Safety Rules

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a settlement with Puna Geothermal Venture for Clean Air Act chemical safety violations at its geothermal energy plant in the Puna area of the Island of Hawaii. After an EPA inspection, the facility has now complied with the rules designed to minimize accidental chemical releases. The company has also agreed to pay a civil penalty of $76,500.


“The goal of EPA’s inspections is to protect the health and safety of the workers at the plant and the residents in the community,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Our continued oversight will help ensure that it operates in a safe manner by complying with federal requirements.”

EPA conducted a chemical facility inspection in August 2013 and found that PGV had failed to take necessary steps to prevent accidental releases of hydrogen sulfide. Specifically, the company had not tested and inspected its equipment with the frequency consistent with manufacturers’ recommendations, good engineering practices, and prior operating experience.

The inspectors also found that with respect to PGV’s storage, use and handling of pentane, a flammable substance used as a working fluid in the facility’s electricity producing turbines, PGV failed to:

  • Conduct periodic compliance audits of its accident prevention program and document that identified deficiencies have been corrected.
  • Implement adequate written operating procedures that provide clear instructions for safely conducting activities.
  • Ensure that the frequency of inspections and tests of equipment is consistent with manufacturers’ recommendations, good engineering practices, and prior operating experience.
  • Analyze and report on a worst-case release scenario and estimate the population that would be affected by an accidental release of pentane.

Today’s penalty action is taken under the federal Clean Air Act’s Section 112(r) General Duty Clause and Risk Management Program requirements.

The General Duty Clause requires facilities to minimize the probability and consequences of accidental chemical releases to better protect workers, communities and the environment. The Risk Management Program requires development of a Risk Management Plan that includes: a hazard assessment detailing the potential effects of an accidental release; a chemical accident prevention program that includes process operation, maintenance, and employee training measures; and an emergency response program that spells out procedures for informing the public and local response agencies should an accident occur.

EPA’s August 2013 inspection was prompted by releases of hydrogen sulfide from the facility to the atmosphere in March and April 2013. The April 2013 release was caused by a pump failure, resulting in a leak of geothermal condensate (composed primarily of water with some contaminants, including hydrogen sulfide) for about 15 minutes before PGV personnel were able to isolate and stop the leakage. The March 2013 release was attributed to the tripping of a breaker in the local power grid, and PGV’s emergency shutdown and hydrogen sulfide abatement systems functioned as designed.

In addition to EPA’s oversight, including the Risk Management Plan updates that PGV must submit, the air permit issued to the facility by the State of Hawaii’s Department of Health requires PGV to submit regular air quality monitoring reports to the state.

For more information on EPA’s Risk Management Program, please visit: http://www2.epa.gov/rmp

For more information on the Clean Air Act’s General Duty clause, please visit: http://www2.epa.gov/rmp/general-duty-clause-fact-sheet

Poisonous Dart Frog Found on Oahu – More Common Then Thought

My wife’s cousin Cory Nakamatsu caught a poisonous dart frog in Palolo Valley over on Oahu today and posted the following picture of it to Facebook:

Poisonous Frog on Oahu

Poisonous Dart Frog caught in Palolo Valley on Oahu

After sharing it on Facebook today… I learned that they are not that uncommon here in Hawaii… at least on Oahu:


Anyone else come across these frogs in Hawaii?

“Pipe Bomb” Found on Car Determined Not Explosive

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating an incident reported in South Kohala on Tuesday (December 5) by a local vehicle tow company.
HPDBadgeAt about 9:40 a.m. the tow company reported receiving a phone call from an individual about a car in the company’s possession. After taking a closer look, the owner of the tow company became very concerned about a device resembling a “pipe bomb” affixed to the front of the vehicle.

Responding officers confirmed the description given by tow company employees and conferred with U.S. Army Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) personnel about the suspicious device. After reviewing photographs of the device, EOD personnel elected to fly to Waimea from Oahu, along with special agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Late Tuesday night the device was disassembled and it was determined that the contents were not explosive.

The investigation will be continued by detectives with the Police Department’s Area II Criminal Investigations Division with assistance from the FBI and ATF.

As a result of this incident, approximately 12 homes and their 21 occupants in the Nani Waimea subdivision were displaced while personnel worked to identify and safely disassemble the suspicious device. Police apologize for the inconvenience caused to those residents but, given the circumstances, it was the prudent thing to do.

Police ask anyone with information about the vehicle and/or the device to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Department of Health Releases Interim Assessment of Response to Dengue Outbreak on Island of Hawaii

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) is releasing the Interim Assessment of the Response to the Dengue Outbreak on the Island of Hawaii provided to the State and County of Hawaii by Dr. Lyle R. Petersen, MD, MPH, director of the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Dr. Petersen’s assessment of current response efforts was conducted at the request of the State and County. The assessment is posted at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/files/2015/12/CDC-Hawaii-assessment_final.pdf

Click to read

Click to read

“We thank Dr. Petersen and the CDC team that have been working with us on this dengue outbreak and their work on the interim assessment,” said Health Director Virginia Pressler, M.D. “The assessment moves us forward, providing a frank evaluation and recommendations. Clearly this outbreak is about more than the state health department, the county, or CDC –it’s about all of us. We must all fight the bite if we are to break the cycle of infection and protect ourselves.”

According to the 10-page report, the response by DOH to the ongoing outbreak has been timely, well considered, and appropriate. Coordination between State and County is excellent, and operations within Hawaii County are proceeding under an effective incident command structure at the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency.

All facets of a public health response to a dengue outbreak have been addressed adequately: community outreach, surveillance, diagnostic testing, medical care, and vector control. The report identifies two critical deficiencies that should be urgently addressed: communications and medical entomologic (entomology is the study of insects) capabilities.  “Communications capacity at the State Department of Health is inadequate,” notes Petersen.

He adds that the dengue outbreak overwhelmed the one full-time communications professional at DOH. A public relations firm was hired and CDC communications experts were brought in to assist with the ongoing outbreak.

Longer-term, hiring additional communications personnel is recommended.  Regarding entomologic capabilities the report states that the response to the outbreak has been hampered by a “lack of technical and general staffing capacity at the Department of Health”.

The report cautions that introductions of other mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika and chikungunya are likely and will require entomologic expertise that does not currently exist in DOH. The report recommends restoring entomologic capacity lost in the DOH.

The report addresses both laboratory testing and the epidemiology capacities, highlighting a strong state lab capacity and stating the current laboratory testing protocols are state of the art and turn-around of results rapid. The report determined that the epidemiological response was timely and well considered but warns that current resources are taxed, and there is little surge capacity if another significant health event arises in the state.

Dr. Lyle Petersen and Hawaii County Civil Defense Chief Darryl Oliviera

Dr. Lyle Petersen and Hawaii County Civil Defense Chief Darryl Oliveira

The report concludes that the coordination of response efforts between DOH and county offices of Civil Defense, Fire, Parks & Recreation, and Public Works has been extremely well organized and serves as a model for others.

Updated Map Pinpoints Further Big Island of Hawaii Dengue Cases

This is a Dengue Fever information update for Monday, December 14th at 2:45 PM.

The State Department of Health continues to work with other state and county agencies on the issue of the Dengue Fever outbreak. As of 1:00 PM today the Department of Health had reported three additional confirmed cases since Friday, December 11th and bringing the total number of confirmed cases to date to 149. These cases include 132 residents and 17 visitors.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Castle House or Puppy Mill – Resident Threatens to Release 30 Dogs in Seaview

The “Castle House” in the Kalapana-Seaview area of the Big Island has had their share of problems in the last few years.

Many years ago I blogged about the illegal scam they were running by inviting folks to “Pay $100 to write an Essay” to possibly win a brand new house.  That scam pretty much fizzled out with no one winning a house and a bunch of folks out $100.00.

Castle House
Now a resident that is staying at the Castle House has threatened to release approximately 30 dogs that apparently are staying at the Castle House into the Seaview area if folks don’t start to adopt them.

Castle House resident Morgan Birdwell posted the following on Facebook:

“Hey want a puppy or 5 with great genetics? Come to the Castle we have about thirty of them!”

MorganThe Facebook post immediately drew the attention of one person who posted:

That is a joke right?

The post also caught Kalapana Seaview Neighborhood Watch member Mark Hinshaw’s attention and I’ll just post what was said between the two of them:

Mark Hinshaw Interesting info for the Humane Society….

Morgan Birdwell
Morgan Birdwell No this please help these puppies find a home or they will be free range puppies running around seaview

Mark Hinshaw
Mark Hinshaw Morgan, are you saying the Castle has 30 puppies that are going to be released as “free range puppies running around Seaview” if you can not adopt them out?

Morgan Birdwell
Morgan Birdwell
Morgan Birdwell They’ll replace all your chickens

Morgan Birdwell
Morgan Birdwell Dogs have more meat than chickens anyways

Mark Hinshaw
Mark Hinshaw That is about as irresponsible as one could be. Call either the humane society or the other animal shelter. I will be contacting Humane Society tomorrow morning and advising them that you intend on releasing 30 puppies that have not be fixed into our community. Thanks for the heads up.

Morgan Birdwell
Morgan Birdwell You really want all these. Puppies to be crammed into one cage there I’m trying to find good homes for them and they’re free so what’s the problem

Mark Hinshaw
Mark Hinshaw Because you advised that unless these puppies are adopted that “they will be free range puppies running around seaview”

Damon Tucker
Damon Tucker Nothing like a pack of hungry dogs running around. #CujoAtTheCastle

Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr
Damon Tucker
Damon Tucker Morgan Birdwell do you live at the castle? what’s the rent? How many folks are staying there now? How many runaways are there?

Morgan Birdwell
Morgan Birdwell Like five people live there right now and no runaways

Damon Tucker
Damon Tucker What’s the rent?

Morgan Birdwell
Morgan Birdwell im tired of all these questions good night

Damon Tucker
Damon Tucker Yep… people get tired of being questioned when they know that they are involved in doing something wrong. Mark Hinshaw you call the Humane Society yet?

Reports Show Dengue Fever CAN Be Transmitted to the Larvae and Eggs

I’ve had many concerns on whether Dengue Fever can be transmitted from the female mosquito to their larvae and on to the eggs and it appears that it can happen!

Mosquito Laying Eggs
Big Island Video News posted the following video which showed the Hawaii State Department of Health Representative basically stating that they can’t confirm whether Dengue Fever can be spread to the eggs and larvae.

Thanks to the Hawaii Dengue Fever Awareness Facebook page, I’ve learned of more recent research that has been going on that shows that Dengue Fever can be passed on to the larvae and eggs:

Carey Yost posted some links she came across regarding this subject:

“…some of the more recent tropical information states that it can & does happen in some locations naturally (it has been known to happen in lab inoculations for a time:

Factors that influence mosquito competence for viral transmission:


There have been some isolated findings of naturally infected A. aegypti larva with DEN- 2 & 4, suggesting that transovarial transmission can occur (this testing is fairly new, prior methods of testing were fairly prohibitive on large scale natural larval pools):




and in lab inoculated mosquitoes:


Yost said: “It is not real common, in the pools tested there are very very very few naturally occurring cases, and this has only been found in very few locations, though there have been samplings in most Dengue regions…so not at all a very common thing, but there is a slight chance, so everyone should be very diligent to eliminate larvae breeding areas…that is: any standing water: from things like; old tires, catchment tanks with breeding covers or that are not in use, even shells from coconuts, avocados, & lilikoi can provide adequate breeding area foe a slew of mosquitoes.”

Yost continued, “It is not the NORMAL way of transmission & until the recent advent of fairly inexpensive DNA testing, was not something anyone would test for (old methods were very expensive & time consuming)”

Hawaii Biotech Receives Contract To Develop Dengue Vaccine

Hawaii Biotech, Inc. (HBI), announced today that the US Army SBIR Program awarded the company a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I contract to develop an effective dengue vaccine to protect military personnel against this potentially mission-aborting disease.


Current leading dengue vaccine candidates in clinical trails offer only partial protection and long immunization periods. International travelers and military personnel being deployed to tropical or subtropical regions require more immediate and more complete immunity.

Specifically, HBI will develop and test novel adjuvants to enhance the immunogenicity of an inactivated dengue vaccine candidate. This effort takes the initial steps toward developing the world’s first vaccine capable of rapidly generating complete, lasting protection from dengue fever.

“The growing outbreak of dengue fever in Hawaii highlights the need for stronger containment efforts now, and a commitment to preventing additional outbreaks in the future. This vaccine has the potential to seriously improve the response to dengue fever both in Hawaii, and around the world, and I am pleased that the Army has awarded this important research and development contract to a local Hawaii business,” said Tulsi Gabbard.

“This contract will enable Hawaii Biotech to apply our many years of experience in viral vaccine development and our knowledge of the challenges in developing a dengue vaccine to this important mission,” said Elliot Parks, CEO.

In Phase I, HBI will select suitable adjuvant formulations and then demonstrate protective efficacy in a mouse model with a single dengue serotype. Upon successful completion of Phase I, HBI will be eligible to apply for Phase II funding that will continue development of the inactivated dengue vaccine candidate. This will include expanding the work to all four dengue serotypes to establish feasibility of the required tetravalent vaccine for dengue and additional preclinical efficacy studies. A successful Phase II outcome will provide the basis for advancement of the dengue vaccine into clinical trials needed for regulatory approval and commercialization.

This contract was funded by the Army SBIR Program. The work is managed by the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command under Contract No. W81XWH-15-C-0120 and will be managed and done in collaboration with the Viral and Rickettsial Diseases Department at the Naval Medical Research Center.

The views, opinions and/or findings contained in this report are those of the author and should not be construed as an official Department of the Army position, policy or decision unless so designated by other documentation. In conducting research using animals, the investigator will adhere to the Animal Welfare Act Regulations and other Federal statutes relating to animals and experiments involving animals and the principles set forth in the current version of the Guide for Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, National Research Council.

Support for Proposed Merger of NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric Industries Grows

NextEra Energy, Inc. and Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. today announced that support for the companies’ proposed merger continues to grow at a steady pace, as evidenced by the more than 25 diverse groups that in recent weeks have voiced support for the transaction.

NextEra Logo

“As we continue to listen, learn and constructively engage with customers and communities throughout the state, we are extremely pleased to see so many diverse and important stakeholders – from organized labor such as the AFL-CIO and IBEW to business leaders and organizations including multiple chambers of commerce – all echo their support in recognition of the significant and tangible benefits this merger will bring to Hawaii,” said Eric Gleason, president of NextEra Energy Hawaii. “The support we have received from these organizations, alongside our recent agreements with the Department of Defense and the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, further strengthens our belief that NextEra Energy is the right partner to help Hawaiian Electric achieve Hawaii’s 100 percent renewable portfolio standard by 2045, while integrating more rooftop solar, modernizing the electric grids and lowering customer bills.”

“We are thankful and pleased to see so many Hawaii residents and local groups across our state publicly lend their support for the merger of NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric,” said Alan Oshima, Hawaiian Electric’s president and chief executive officer. “With its comprehensive commitments to our customers and our communities, NextEra Energy stands ready to be a strong, long-term partner as we work together to build a more affordable, clean energy future for Hawaii.”

The following chambers of commerce, labor unions, local companies and community organizations have voiced support for the proposed merger in recent weeks:

  • Hawaii State AFL-CIO
  • Hawaii Construction Alliance
  • Building Industry Association (BIA) – Hawaii
  • International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 1
  • Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters
  • Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ Local 630
  • Chamber of Commerce Hawaii
  • Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce
  • Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii
  • Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii
  • Hawaii Korean Chamber of Commerce
  • Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Hawaii
  • Kauai Chamber of Commerce
  • Kapolei Chamber of Commerce
  • Molokai Chamber of Commerce
  • Hunt Companies
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1186
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1260
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1357
  • KTA Superstores
  • L&L Hawaiian Barbecue
  • Makai Ocean Engineering
  • Nalo Farms
  • Navy League Honolulu Council
  • Pacific Resource Partnership
  • Partners in Development
  • Stanford Carr Development
  • United Public Workers Local 646
  • Waianae Coast Community Foundation

Video – How the Hawaii Department of Health Investigates Dengue Fever

Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) epidemiology specialist and field investigator Joe Elm gives an overview of the steps taken in a dengue fever investigation.