Seventy-seven people in Israel have contracted West Nile fever since the beginning of 2018, 14 of whom had severe symptoms, the Health Ministry reported Monday. Three people have died from the virus – two of them have seniors who suffered from other diseases and one was a 61-year-old with metastatic cancer.
The Ministry of Health has linked the large number of infections to climate change and extreme weather conditions.
According to the ministry, the presence of the virus in various communities indicates a high probability that mosquitoes also transport it in areas where it has not yet been found.
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Europe has also reported a large number of infections, including 183 diagnoses in Italy and 106 in Greece this year.
Meanwhile, the Israel Association of Public Health Physicians and the Israeli Society for Infectious Diseases published a joint opinion Monday that criticized the failure of government ministries and professional organizations to weaken the spread of infectious diseases that have recently erupted in Israel.
"In recent weeks, we have witnessed a significant increase in media reports of morbidity and mortality from infectious diseases, with an emphasis on zoonotic diseases such as leptospirosis, West Nile Fever, Brucella and leishmaniasis, as well as re-emerging diseases such as measles," read the joint newspaper.
"This serious phenomenon has been known for some time, despite the warnings about the need to invest in suitable budgets, to train the right manpower, to strengthen laboratory capacities and to control morbidity, and to integrate information between the various relevant ministries will only get worse. "
The medical professionals also said that the recent outbreaks "bring to light the structural shortcomings of Israel's systems and respond to emerging diseases and zoonotic diseases at a number of levels." In addition to the immediate, professional and dedicated response in localized incidents, there is a need for intensive treatment and strengthening the system, "they said.
In addition, medical associations have offered to set up a professional and autonomous public health authority similar to that in many countries around the world. "This body will work in both routine and emergency situations and will monitor, evaluate, prevent and respond to the risks of outbreaks of zoonotic and other infectious diseases, and will be a source of professional knowledge in this area and research and innovation. cheer on". explained.
According to the Ministry of Health, climate change, leading to an increase in extreme natural phenomena such as droughts and floods, leads to outbreaks of diseases and water pollution in different population groups and to an increase in breeding in certain disease-carrying pests – including mosquitoes.
After warnings about the increase in the number of malaria patients, the relevant authorities received instructions to treat mosquito breeding and to eradicate them. In addition, according to the Ministry of Health, it is necessary to treat open water sources in and around the house in order to prevent the development of the mosquitoes. To prevent mosquito bites, nets must be installed in the windows of the house and mosquito repellent must be applied.
West Nile Fever is usually a mild, flu-like disease, but in rare cases can develop into meningitis and become fatal. The disease usually breaks down six days after a mosquito bite and usually disappears after three to six days. There is currently no vaccine against the disease.