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Although malaria has long been eradicated in Israel and is easily preventible, a Hadera resident in his 20s who returned from half a year in Africa contracted it abroad and was hospitalized in an intensive care unit in serious condition, according to Hillel Yaffe Medical Center.
The returning traveler complained of weakness, difficulty breathing and a high fever and was diagnosed at the Hadera hospital with malaria. Apparently, the Hillel Yaffe spokeswoman said, he did not take the prophylactic drugs that he bought for protection from the often fatal disease, which is spread by protozoan parasites carried by the Anopheles mosquito.
In the last two years, three people who contracted malaria abroad were hospitalized at Hillel Yaffe alone. Usually, the infection occurs because the traveler did not take the required medications.
Dr. Moni Litmanovich, head of the general intensive care unit, said his patient said he felt unwell even before flying home. He decided to be examined and get treatment in the hospital. He was quickly diagnosed and admitted to the internal medicine department. As a result of complications, his bodily systems began to fail.
"Don't think that if you're going for only a short time to areas where malaria is endemic, it won't happen to you," warned Litmanovich. "Don't think that if you've been there for a long time and not been infected, you are safe or that you have immunity to it."
Travelers also need to use anti-mosquito preparations and wear light, long-sleeved and -legged clothing. It is best to sleep only in beds with mosquito netting, he added. Around 2 million people die of malaria each year.