As summer brings to Hawaii increased travel to and from the state, top state and local officials, including Governor Ige and Mayors Arakawa, Caldwell, Carvalho, and Kenoi stood together on June 30 to demonstrate a concerted statewide effort to “Fight the Bite” and keep Hawaii free of diseases spread by mosquitoes. The public education campaign has been relaunched by the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) during National Mosquito Control Awareness Week and expanded to include all mosquito-borne diseases that pose a threat to Hawaii, such as Zika, dengue and chikungunya.
The revamped “Fight the Bite” campaign has two key components. The first comes on the heels of the recent Hawaii Island dengue fever outbreak, which began in October 2015 and continued through the spring of this year. As a follow up to the intense response to 264 cases of dengue fever that likely began as a result of an infected traveler, DOH coordinated with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency and county emergency management/civil defense agencies to develop a response plan specifically for mosquito-borne diseases. It outlines ongoing preparedness activities to take place when there are no cases, as well as response measures for all imported cases and measures in the event of infected mosquitoes transmitting a disease locally.
The second component includes a research-based public education campaign that leverages numerous broadcast and social media channels to build awareness about mosquito-borne disease prevention. Starting in early July, Hawaii residents can expect to hear “Fight the Bite” messages on local radio and television stations statewide, and see graphics in malls and shopping centers. All resources will be made available to the public at the redesigned campaign website at www.FightTheBiteHawaii.com.
DOH is coordinating closely with tourism officials to ensure the “Fight the Bite” message reaches visitors to Hawaii. With the support of the Hawaii Tourism Authority and State Department of Transportation, people can also expect to see updated “Fight the Bite” information this year in key points-of-entry, such as airports and harbors.