An 87-year-old woman suffering from serious cardiovascular and other diseases was recently bitten by a mosquito infected with West Nile fever and died, the Health Ministry reported on Monday.
There have been 24 other diagnosed cases and six possible cases of the fever in recent weeks; by this time last year, there were only six to 13 reported cases.
As the annual outbreak arrived earlier than usual, the Health and Environmental Quality Ministries reminded the public to do what they could to keep mosquitoes away. These include using window screens and mosquito repellent, drying up stagnant water and wearing light, long-sleeved clothing.
The virus has no harmful effects on the healthy, but people with weak immune systems - including young children, the chronically ill and the elderly - are at risk for complications if infected.
The two ministries work jointly to reduce the numbers of mosquitoes and fight the spread of the disease. More information (in Hebrew) can be obtained at www.health.gov.il and www.sviva.gov.il.