Significant rise in West Nile virus cases

West Nile is usually a mild, flu-like disease that passes without treatment.

Mosquito (illustrative). (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Mosquito (illustrative).
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
The number of people diagnosed with West Nile fever – a disease caused by being bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus – rose significantly in August, the Health Ministry said on Monday.
Since January, there have been 42 cases – 38 of which were diagnosed since the beginning of August alone.
Most of the cases have occurred in Rehovot and Ra’anana.
West Nile virus is either asymptomatic or a mild, flu-like disease in 70-80% of cases. Symptoms include fever, headaches, weakness, pain in joints or muscles, and an infection of the conjunctiva (the mucous membrane that covers the front of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelids). In 10 percent of the cases, however, the disease is severe, and causes neurological problems which can include meningitis and encephalitis No one has died of the disease this year in Israel.
On Monday, Environmental Protection Ministry officials said that inspectors from its pesticides control department have identified mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus in several new places over the past two weeks. The latest discoveries of infected mosquitoes occurred at the fish ponds in the northern kibbutz of Sde Eliyahu, in Sderot, in the sewage canal at the northern entrance to the northern city of Baka al-Gharbiya, and at the fish ponds in the northern moshav of Talmei Elazar, the ministry said.
The discoveries occurred as a result of routine checks, as inspectors have intensified surveillance and control activities of mosquitoes around the country, according to the ministry.
The Health Ministry recommends applying mosquito repellent, installing screens on windows, and wearing light, long-sleeved clothing to avoid being bitten. It takes seven to 14 days from the time of infection until symptoms of the disease appear.