The Environmental Protection Ministry, together with the Health Ministry, will
launch a program to fight the spread of the serious skin disease leishmaniasis,
which has recently spread westward to cities and towns from Tiberias to Dimona,
along the Jordan Valley.
Dubbed “Rose of Jericho,” the disease is caused
by protozoan parasites that belong to the genus Leishmania and is transmitted by
the bite of female sand fly that bite infected rodents called rock
The cabinet approved the program this week. Cutaneous
leishmaniasis is the most common form of leishmaniasis, while visceral
leishmaniasis is a severe form in which the parasites have migrated to the vital
organs. The infection appears as red sores (hence its nickname) on the skin a
few weeks or months after being bitten by the sand fly that erupt weeks to
months after the person affected is bitten by sand flies. The infection can also
damage the liver and spleen and cause anemia. The sores can cause permanent,
ugly scars if untreated.
The government decided to invest NIS 10 million
in the effort, with municipalities and local authorities where the sand flies
have spread to receive money to buy fly traps and run public information
campaigns to minimize infection.
Localities that are known to have
infected hyraxes will be surrounded with fences to bar their entry. In the past
decade, more than 1,650 Israelis from 50 communities have been diagnosed with
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan said
leishmaniasis affects children and adults and can leave them with disfigurement
and worse. Infected sandflies have been identified in hot areas around Lake
Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee), on the hills of Judea and Samaria, and in central
Galilee, the Beit She’an Valley, Gush Etzion, Elkana, the Ramat Hanegev and the
The money will be spent over three years. Individuals can purchase
sand flies repellants, install screens on windows and wear long, light clothing
to protect the skin from bites.