Should I be concerned about Zika virus in Hawaii?
November 4, 2016 2:26 PM   Subscribe

So I am the first to admit that I skew more paranoid and often worry about things that most people wouldn't give a passing thought to. So that brings me to my question, which is, is there any risk at all of contracting Zika in Hawaii currently? We are thinking of going there mid-December to early January.
posted by madonna of the unloved to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
current hawaii resident here. what part of hawaii are you traveling to?

if this is a serious concern because you are pregnant or trying to conceive, stay out of the rural parts of the big island. and in general avoid hiking in the forest/in valleys with a lot of mud and standing water. if you do hike wear long pants and use bug repellent with DEET.
posted by zdravo at 2:31 PM on November 4, 2016

There is always some risk, of course. But the CDC map for Zika in the US does not show local transmission vectors in Hawaii, so if you're going in the next month or two, I would personally consider it safe, providing you take adequate precautions.

That said, if you're going to worry about it for your entire pregnancy, it might not be worth it no matter what the stats say.
posted by ethidda at 2:32 PM on November 4, 2016

I'm no expert but I wouldn't be concerned about Hawaii. I almost never even get bitten by mosquitoes in Hawaii. According to the CDC 100% of the locally transmitted cases in the US are in Florida.
posted by vunder at 2:35 PM on November 4, 2016

We are thinking of going to Maui but actually not sure yet. We are more interested in experiencing the food and culture and maybe snorkeling and less interested in a lot of strenuous outdoor activity. From my research, Maui sounded suitable.
posted by madonna of the unloved at 2:38 PM on November 4, 2016

Maui should be fine especially if you're just eating and snorkeling and hanging at the beach and not hiking. I get chowed down on by mosquitos when I hike valleys in Oahu.

Our zika cases, when we had them, were happening on the big island, where we have farmers who are not necessarily taking adequate steps to control the mosquito population and where standing water is plentiful.
posted by zdravo at 2:59 PM on November 4, 2016

Per the CDC: Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus). These are the same mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.

Per the Hawai'i Department of Health: Aedes aegypti is found only on the Big Island and Molokai.

Also from the CDC: Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are more likely to spread viruses like Zika, dengue, chikungunya and other viruses than other types of mosquitoes such as Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. (because Ae. albopictus feeds on other animals besides humans).

So yes, there is a risk. The risk is less if you stay off of the Big Island and Molokai. The risk seems to be pretty small regardless (since it hasn't happened anywhere in Hawai'i yet.).
posted by sparklemotion at 3:58 PM on November 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

Anecdata that may not be helpful, but I've not seen much in the way of mosquito problems in three trips to Maui. I've never gone in winter, however. Qualifications: mosquito magnet.
posted by cnc at 4:09 PM on November 4, 2016

Anecdata: I got covered in bites (30-50 bites) while my bf didn't have any visible ones when we visited Maui for 4 days last December. However, most/all of them were from visits to rainforesty areas like the Iao valley and along the road to Hana. Did not notice any mosquito issues in the towns or at the beach. Not that I think you'll get Zika, but just so you know that you can get bitten depending on where you go, even in December.
posted by bread-eater at 7:25 PM on November 4, 2016

You don't mention whether you're pregnant or trying. Unless you are, there's nothing to worry about. Even if you do get it, the symptoms seem to be mild in comparison with other things you can get.
posted by ryanbryan at 9:21 PM on November 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I almost never even get bitten by mosquitoes in Hawaii.

I used to live on Kauai (near the jungle) and I got 10+ bites every damn day. There will be mosquitoes. There will probably not be Zika. But you won't be able to tell that if you're bitten.
posted by kamikazegopher at 3:10 AM on November 5, 2016

Data point: I live on Maui; I haven't been worried about Zika. We don't have the mosquito on Maui that is the most likely to transmit it and most areas you'll go don't really have a high prevalence of mosquitoes (the resort areas are on the drier leeward sides of the island). Elsewhere, the trades usually keep the mosquitoes at bay and/or you're at high enough elevation that there aren't mosquitoes (Haleakala/Poli Poli Spring). If you do any rainforest/waterfall hikes (Road to Hana or Waihe'e Ridge), bug spray w deet works well.
posted by melissasaurus at 9:11 AM on November 6, 2016

The Hawaii Gov page.

Seems like there isn't yet a material risk, but there's nothing worse than having your otherwise amazing vacation ruined by thoughts of what-ifs.

I.e. if you skew towards worry, stay away from Hilo on TBI and stay on the sunny sides of the islands in general and you'll be just fine. So in Maui, Kihei, Kaanapali, Lahaina... all that coast will be less likely to see mosquitoes vs Hana or the rainy side. Not saying there's no chance of mosquitoes there just that there are far far fewer.
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee at 10:46 AM on November 8, 2016

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