Health Ministry to take measures to counter outbreak of leptospirosis

The heads of the Ministry of Health met on Sunday for an emergency meeting to discuss an outbreak of leptospirosis,
during which a decision was taken on a number of measures that will be taken to eradicate the disease, including vaccination of infected herds of livestock and improvement of sanitation.

During the meeting it was revealed that up to now 42 people have been infected with the virus and that there are another 242 suspected cases of infection.

Deputy Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman has discussed the situation,
warning to the public to enter the contaminated area.

  Emergency meeting for the Ministry of Health (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)

Emergency meeting for the Ministry of Health (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)

"We think the situation is under control. instructions from professionals and to stay away from entering potentially dangerous areas, "added Litzman.

Among other attendees were also deputy general of the Ministry of Health Moshe Bar Siman Tov, deputy director general of the Ministry of Health Prof. dr. Itamar Grotto, Director General of the Ministry of Tourism Amir Halevi and representatives of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Nature and Park Authority, the Water Board, the Association of Farmers and Municipal Councils.

It was decided that various ministries will work together in a coordinated way to eradicate the disease, with a number of rapidly implementing steps, including:

1. Regulation of the sources of drinking and pasture areas of bovine herds, as well as foreclosure of the sources to prevent livestock from gaining access to the water sources.

2. The flow of water through the Water Board in the sources. It was clarified that efforts should be made mainly in the regulation of livestock and wild boar that transmit the disease.

3. Vaccination of infected bovine herds.

4. Activities to improve the levels of sanitation by local authorities.

 (Photo: The Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

(Photo: The Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

In addition, the Ministry of Health will continue to inform the public on a regular basis regarding the state of the infected streams and sources.

"The Department of Health examines the streams and keeps a close eye on the matter," Litzman said in reactions to the media prior to the discussion. "The currents that are bad, the ministry closes and those who are good, it leaves open."

Moshe Bar Siman Tov assured that "things are under control, and we control both the water sources and the disease patterns on a daily basis." Please note our instructions, because there are many unfounded, false and biased things (said). "[19659003] He said that with the cooperation of all authorities invited to the emergency discussion, leptospirosis will not be a problem next summer.

Prof Itamar Grotto said the list of unsafe locations is "constantly updated" on the website of the Ministry of Health.

"It is important to emphasize that everywhere there are no restrictions (that is not on the list), and leptospirosis can not be contracted by air or in the pool water," said Prof. dr. Grotto, adding that it is safe to travel in northern Israel.

The authority for nature and parks reported Saturday that the number of visitors to North Israeli water destinations has declined as a result of the leptospirosis shock.

 (Photo: Avi Moalem)

(Photo: Avi Moalem)

At Horshat Tal, the number of visitors dropped from 1,800 to 800 in a week. In Nahal Snir, visitor numbers dropped from 1,650 to 700, and Gan Hashlosha saw only 1,700 visitors, 1,100 fewer than last week.

The reason for the infection outbreak is still unclear. It is thought to be related to herds of cattle that graze in the Golan Heights and contaminated streams with droppings, as well as a low volume flow due to the persistent drought.

Prof. Michal Hovers, who leads the unit for infectious diseases at the Meir hospital in Kfar Saba, explained that the infection is caused by the Leptospira bacterium, which comes from animals.

"Animals contaminate the water and the streams, and people who bathe there or get in touch with mouse urine in open-air habitats can catch this infection," she said in an interview with Ynet.

"The symptoms may be mild in some cases, but in other cases the infection can become severe and lead to kidney and liver failure," she continued.

Prof Hovers added that the symptoms included fever, flu-like symptoms and sometimes corneal infections, but stressed that not all symptoms require hospitalization.

 (Photo: The Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

(Photo: The Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

The ministry mentioned several streams that the public is not allowed to enter: Zaki, Yehudiya, Meshushim, Zavitan, Jilabun and Daliyot (in the Majrassa nature reserve), as well as the Jordan (only in the Jordan Park area). [19659003]

Those who have had contact with water or wet mud from the infected currents and fever since the beginning of July who has been longer than 24 hours longer than 24 hours during a period of less than three weeks after the first contact, are advised to call their doctor. [19659002]

The ministry emphasizes that pregnant women, the elderly, children and people suffering from chronic diseases are at greater risk of infection.

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