Blinding parasite possibly found in the Kinneret

At least 29 patients have been hospitalized due to corneal lesions characteristic of infection with the Microsporidia parasite.

 Israel's main reservoir, Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). (photo credit: ROBERT HERSOWITZ)
Israel's main reservoir, Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).
(photo credit: ROBERT HERSOWITZ)

A parasite that can cause eye infections and even permanently impair vision may have been found in the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), the Health Ministry announced on Tuesday evening.

In recent days, the Health Ministry has received reports from ophthalmologists about at least 29 patients requiring hospitalizations due to severe inflammation of the cornea, corneal scarring and even vision impairment. The corneal lesions found in the hospitalized patients are characteristic of infection with the parasite, known as Microsporidia.

At least some of the patients have bathed at the Kinneret, according to an epidemiological investigation conducted by the Health Ministry.

The ministry recommends using goggles when bathing in the Kinneret in the meantime. Any person who has bathed in the lake and is suffering from inflammation of the eye, redness, pain or a feeling of a "foreign body" in the eyes, is asked to contact an ophthalmologist for treatment.

 Eye (credit: INGIMAGE) Eye (credit: INGIMAGE)

Drinking water from the Kinneret does not pose any risk.