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It’s that time of year again.

West Nile Virus (also known as “Nile Fever”) is spreading in central Israel.


The illness is spread by mosquitoes infected with the virus who bite their victims. Older adults are especially vulnerable to the virus.

Since the beginning of May, 21 patients in Israel have been diagnosed with the illness, all of them from the central region (Tel Aviv and surrounds), where the weather humid as well as hot.

Of those, 17 were hospitalized; two died during the weekend. Three patients are intubated and are on respirators, according to Health Ministry spokesperson Shira Solomon.

In 2000, 12 Israelis died of the virus, all of them older adults.

“In order to reduce exposure to mosquitoes, the Ministry of Health recommends using mosquito repellents and appropriate accessories to keep mosquitoes away in the living rooms, as well as turning on fans in the resting place,” she said.

West Nile fever has been known in Israel for many years; it occurs mainly between the months of June and November. This year the morbidity started earlier than usual, however, probably due to the climate changes in Israel and around the world.

Humid weather in the center of the country may lead to the reproduction and development of mosquitoes in this area, the Health Ministry said. Adults and people with immunosuppression are at higher risk of contracting and possibly dying from the illness.

The Health Ministry conducts epidemiological investigations in the case of West Nile Virus. The information gathered is then forwarded to the Ministry of Environmental Protection for local pest control operations by the authorities.

Both the Health and Environmental Protection Ministries inform the public about areas where mosquitoes infected with the virus are caught.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.