LIHUE — A Kauai resident who recently returned from Latin America has been infected with the Zika virus.
It’s the first case of the mosquito-borne disease, linked to birth defects, confirmed on Kauai by the Hawaii Department of Health. It’s the second case confirmed in Hawaii.
Kauai’s health officials said Monday residents should stay calm.
“There’s absolutely no cause for concern or panic unless multiple cases develop, which I seriously doubt,” said Dileep Bal, Kauai District Health Officer, on Monday. “We just want to make sure that it’s isolated in this house and that we do mosquito control in the immediate environment to the house.”
Anna Koethe, DOH spokeswoman, said they wouldn’t be releasing the person’s name or the location of their residence to protect their privacy.
“The individual is potentially contagious,” Koethe said. “They have been advised to remain indoors and take precautions from being bitten by mosquitoes.”
She said the Vector Control team has visited the person’s home to survey for mosquitoes and to treat any breeding sites.
“In general, there was very little to no mosquito activity seen throughout the neighborhood,” Koethe said. “A few containers were discovered with larvae, but could be easily emptied out. No spraying was done.”
Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. said he’s been working with the Kauai Civil Defense Agency and the Kauai District Health Office in preparedness and preventative efforts against Zika virus and dengue fever.
“Today’s announcement reinforces the need for community awareness and preventative measures that should be taken to help prevent Zika,” Carvalho said in a statement. “At this time I ask for your assistance with community awareness and preventative measures.”
He also directed community members to follow the state’s “Fight the Bite” protocols for helping eliminate the bugs that can carry Zika, dengue fever and other illnesses.
Those steps are to get rid of standing water in buckets and puddles, fix leaky faucets and hoses that are dripping, treat plants that routinely hold water, clean gutters so that water can flow freely, and dispose of old tires.
The state also suggests applying insect repellent when you’re outdoors, wearing long-sleeved clothing and long pants, and avoiding areas and times where mosquitoes are most active.
Hawaii’s health director, Virginia Pressler, expects more imported cases of Zika as the virus continues to spread.
So far, there have been Zika outbreaks in 41 countries and confirmed cases linking Zika to babies born with birth defects have only been seen in Brazil and French Polynesia.
The World Health Organization declared the spread of Zika in the Americas to be a global emergency in February.