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Hawaii Sees an Increase in Dengue Fever Cases during the Holiday Season

Update Date: Dec 26, 2015 10:34 AM EST

Hawaii experienced an increase in dengue fever cases this past holiday season, health officials revealed.

According to the numbers, from September 11 through to December 13, there were 172 reported causes of dengue. The patients are all no longer infectious, the officials noted. However, there have been eight more cases since then and these patients could be infectious.

The officials believe that the cases will continue to increase over the upcoming weeks. An outbreak could last months.

"This could go on for a number of months," Dr. Lyle Petersen of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

"This is an issue that we have to take seriously, as seriously as we did the Ebola epidemic in West Africa last year," Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Houston's Baylor College of Medicine, said to CNN affiliate KHON.

Despite the increase in the number of cases, the state department said, "The Big Island and the rest of Hawaii remain safe destinations for visitors and residents."

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease that is characterized by symptoms such as high fever, rash, muscle and joint pain. In more severe cases, the viral infection can lead to bleeding and shock and can become life threatening. The infection is treatable with fluids and painkillers.

The officials are urging residents and tourists to use insect repellents and to cover up when they can. They are also reminding people that if they feel ill, they should seek out medical care immediately.

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