Kauai developing zika action plan

LIHUE — Kauai’s Civil Defense Agency is working with the state Department of Health to develop a statewide plan to get a handle on mosquito-borne diseases, including Zika.

Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr., who attended an Oahu press conference with Hawaii’s other mayors as well as Gov. David Ige, said the state is working together to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses.

“Some of our (Kauai) efforts include developing a local incident action plan for mosquito-borne disease disseminating the Fight the Bite promotional poster widely to local organizations, businesses, schools, and of course state and county employees, and distribution of joint news releases,” Carvalho said. “Our Solid Waste Division has also contributed to this effort with their free tire recycling program.”

Lauren Guest, public health preparedness planner for Kauai’s DOH District Health Office, said the agency is working with Kauai’s Civil Defense to work out additional ways to use the money, including hiring a temporary outreach worker, support communication activities, and exercising the state vector-borne disease management plan at the county level.

The boost in Zika prevention and response efforts is thanks to a $1 million grant Hawaii garnered from the federal government.

“The major goal for these funds is to improve communication — both between DOH and its partners in the local, state and federal government, as well as with the communities it serves,” said Anna Koethe, DOH spokeswoman.

The plan is in draft form and focuses on creating consistency and optimal communication for everyone involved in Zika prevention and response.

“Coordination between county, state and federal agencies is critical to prevent and control disease outbreaks,” Koethe said.

The education and awareness generation piece of the project is in the planning and consulting phases and DOH is working with the entities involved to find out the best possible uses for the money in each county.

“Each DHO will have additional resources to potentially contract a public health educator or related resource to facilitate community education efforts,” Koethe said.

There isn’t a readily or widely available vaccine for Zika, so money won’t be used to distribute vaccines, though there are several entities nationwide that are working on vaccines, according to DOH.

Some of the money is also earmarked to secure upgrades and enhancements for the state’s electronic disease surveillance system, which is part of the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System. All 50 states are hooked into the NEDSS.

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