Health Ministry says TB cases on the rise in Israel
Health Ministry issues TB report to mark International Tuberculosis Day.
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
The number of new tuberculosis cases in Israel is rising due to the increasing resistance of strains to antibiotics, the influx of infected foreign workers and the growing number of HIV/AIDS patients whose immune systems are too weak to protect them against infection.
This according to the Health Ministry's TB report that was issued Tuesday to mark International Tuberculosis Day.
The ministry held a conference on Tuesday at the Ma'ale Hahamisha guest house, west of Jerusalem, on refugees and tuberculosis, which has killed some 200 million people around the globe since Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria were first discovered by Dr. Robert Koch in 1882.
The ministry recently released the 2007 reports for TB stating that 397 new TB cases were diagnosed in Israel, up from 386 cases in 2006. It is the most deadly infectious disease in the world, killing some 1.7 million people annually.
If patients do not take the full complement of anti-TB medications over the course of six months or more, those bacteria that have not been wiped out can cause a relapse and increased resistance to the antibiotics. With a full course of drugs, which are taken while the patient is under observation, about 90 percent of patients can be cured. Before the antibiotics era, about half of all victims died.
Nine TB diagnosis and treatment centers have been designated around the country, while two inpatient facilities at Shmuel Harofe Hospital in Be'er Ya'acov and Ziv Medical Center in Safed treat patients in special departments.
Due to the arrival of some 15,000 refuge-seekers from Africa in the past two years, the Health Ministry has released guidelines for diagnosing and treating patients without health care coverage, as well as preventing the infection of people who come in contact with them.
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