Preparedness, Public Health

Zika Virus

An unprecedented worldwide outbreak of Zika virus occurred between 2015 and 2017. Brazil was notably the epicenter of the pandemic, but virus spread to places throughout South America, Central America, Mexico, the Philippines, and parts of South Asia and the Pacific Islands. In the United States, cases were reported in many states, but local transmission was limited to Texas and Florida.

Zika had long been known as a mosquito borne virus, but the pandemic revealed several important new findings about the virus:

  • severe birth defects can occur if a woman is infected during pregnancy
  • Zika virus can be transmitted from one human to another through sex
  • Zika virus can be found in semen for up to six months.

Currently (as of April 19, 2019), Zika virus is not spreading in the United States. But travelers to and from areas that have been affected by Zika in the past should be stay up-to-date about health-related travel advisories.

Locally acquired cases of Zika virus have never been detected in Hawaii. The only cases of Zika confirmed in Hawaii occurred when a resident or a visitor traveled to an area with Zika and returned to Hawaii with a Zika virus infection.

Zika virus is spread by aedes mosquitoes. Becuase Aedes albopictus mosquitoes are found on Maui, the virus has the potential to spread here by mosquito – in addition to the sexual route of transmission. For this to occur, the virus would have to be “brought” here, either in the blood of an infected person or in a mosquito infected elsewhere that somehow makes its way to Maui.

Symptoms of Zika infection can include a fever, joint pain, rash, headache, and conjunctivitis (pink eye). Only about 20% of people with Zika infection have symptoms.  When symptoms occur, they can last several days to a week or longer.

Because human fetuses are susceptible to severe birth defects if the mother is infected with Zika virus, state and local governments around the country took measures to control mosquitoes and educate people about transmission of Zika virus through mosquitoes and through sex.

On Maui, in 2016 and 2017, Department of Health educators and outreach workers reached out to healthcare providers and partnered with schools, farmers, businesses, and other government agencies to educate the entire community about the dangers of Zika virus and the ways it is transmitted.

We educated the public about mosquito transmission and sexual transmission of Zika virus, including the following messages.

Prevent mosquitoes from biting you by :

  • Using mosquito repellent
  • Covering your skin (long pants, long sleeves, and socks)
  • Reducing mosquito breeding by emptying standing water

If you are diagnosed with Zika virus while on Maui:

  • Avoid mosquito bites, so the Zika virus will not be transmitted to others
  • Use condoms or abstain from sex for up to 6 months

Click here for more information about mosquito control.

Visit for more information about Zika.


Click here to go directly to Search Tool for EPA registered repellent.

See below for a video explanation from Dr. Lorrin Pang of how Hawaii State Department of Health responds to “suspect” cases of Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses.

Public Health

Rat Lungworm Disease

Angiostrongyliasis, also known as rat lungworm infection, is a condition that can affect the human brain and nervous system. Learn about how you can protect you and your family from Rat Lungworm Disease.


Please click here to see the Hawaii State Department of Health web page on Rat Lungworm Disease.

Rat Lungworm BandW Flyer-8.5x11.jpg

Click here to view Chad Meyer’s Rat Lungworm Community Newsletter

Click here to view or print Educational Activity Book for Kids created by UH Hilo College of Pharmacy Rat Lungworm Working Group. (28 pages, mostly black/white)

Rat Lungworm FAQ – UH Hilo (PDF)  Questions from audience of Rat Lungworm Forum on Nov 9, 2011 at the UH (Hilo) College of Pharmacy. Answers from expert panel.

Poster (legal size, PDF):  What is Rat Lungworm Disease?

See below for Video, Fact Sheets, Journal Articles, and Publications from College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR)

Food Safety Video (how to wash vegetables and fruits before eating). Video provided by CTAHR, with subtitles by Department of Health, Maui Office.

Fact Sheets/Posters/Brochures (PDFs):

Rat Lung Flier (Poster) (color PDF, 1 page, legal size)

How to Wash and Handle Produce, FDA Flier (color PDF, 4 pages)

Rodent Brochure (color PDF, 2 sides)

Journal Articles (PDFs):

Pathways for Transmission of Angiostrongyliasis and the Risk of Disease Associated With Them

Control Measures for Slug and Snail Hosts of Angiostrongylus cantonensis, with Special Reference to the Semi-slug Parmarion martensi

Effects of Washing Produce Contaminated with the Snail and Slug Hosts of Angiostrongylus cantonensis with Three Common Household Solutions

For more scientific journal articles, see the very bottom of the HDOH page on Rat Lungworm Disease.

CTAHR Publications (PDFs):

Managing Snails and Slugs to Reduce the Risk of Rat Lungworm Disease

Avoid Contracting Angiostrongyliasis (Rat Lungworm Infection): Wash Fruits and Vegetables Before Eating

Best Food-Safety Practices for Hawai‘i Gardeners (Q & A format)

Best On-Farm Food Safety Practices: Reducing Risks Associated with Rat Lungworm Infection and Human Eosinophilic Meningitis*

Guidelines on Rainwater Catchment Systems for Hawai‘i (Rat Lungworm mentioned on pages 26-27 only)

*Image below is from page 2 of CTAHR article “Best On-Farm Food Safety Practices.”