Israel Declares West Nile Fever an Epidemic
Israel declared Wednesday the West Nile fever mosquito-borne disease which has so far claimed the lives of 13 Israelis a rare epidemic, Israeli public radio said.
"The West Nile fever is, in fact, an epidemic which is widespread," Boaz Lev, deputy director general of the Israeli health ministry told public radio.
"This outbreak is rare, we are not sure what's brought it on, it could be a combination of weather, mosquitoes, birds and chickens," he added.
On Tuesday an elderly man died of West Nile fever, bringing the toll of fatalities up to 13. A total of 161 people have been diagnosed with the disease.
Israeli authorities have conducted widespread spraying campaigns in a bid to eradicate the mosquitoes and contain the disease. Some 30 localities, mainly around Tel Aviv, have already been treated in this way.
At the end of August the agriculture ministry ordered the destruction of about 2000 geese after the birds were found to be infected with the virus.
The disease resembles malaria, causing influenza-like symptoms and leading to meningitis in more serious cases. There is no known preventive medication against it.
Those most at risk are children under five, the elderly and those with a deficient immune system, in particular those suffering from HIV/AIDS - JERUSALEM (AFP)
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