West Nile virus discovered in southern Israeli mosquitoes

The West Nile virus is commonly hosted by birds and transmitted to humans by mosquito bites.

May 29, 2019 05:54
1 minute read.

Mosquito (illustrative).. (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)

Mosquitoes infected with the West Nile virus were identified in Idan, a moshav in southern Israel, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Following the discovery and subsequent lab result confirmation of the virus' presence, the ministry demanded that the Central Arava Regional Council expand the supervision and control of the mosquitoes in its area to avoid affecting the surrounding population.

In the wake of the rainy winter, much stagnant water is present throughout the country. As such, the ministry explained, there is a chance there will be a wider spread mosquito population than usual. To prevent people becoming infected with West Nile virus, the ministry is calling on local authorities throughout the country to expand surveillance and control of mosquitoes in their own municipalities. 

Senior deputy director-general for natural resources at the ministry, Alon Zasak, called on authorities to eliminate such hazards - including drying water sources in yards, on roofs and in shelters, as well as installing nets in the window of houses and regularly applying mosquito repellent.

The West Nile virus is commonly hosted by birds and transmitted to humans by mosquito bites. If affected, symptoms can include fevers, headaches and muscle pain. The virus is rarely fatal, however, in some patients the disease may cause brain inflammation, which could lead to death. No vaccine currently exists to protect against infection.

In Israel, the virus mainly appears from mid-August to mid-October. The virus was most prevalent in northern areas of the country last summer.

Juliane Helmhold contributed to this report.

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