Photo Credit: Flash90
Israeli soldiers carry a wounded comrade to a hospital in Beer Sheva, Israel.

An IDF fighter who was seriously injured two weeks ago died on Tuesday after being infected by a dangerous fungus found in the soil of the Gaza Strip, Reshet Bet Radio reported. The fungus has infected ten other fighters.

The deceased fighter arrived with serious injuries to his limbs at Asuta Hospital in Ashdod, where they identified that he had been infected with treatment-resistant fungi. The doctors tried every possible treatment, including experimental treatments from abroad, and brought in every specialist they could, but in the end, the fungus invaded vital organs in the soldier’s body and he died.


Professor Galia Rahav, Chair of the Infectious Diseases Association and former director of the Infectious Diseases Unit at Sheba Hospital, told Reshet Bet Radio that the dead soldier and the ten soldiers who were injured in Gaza were infected with fungi that originated in the local soil and have not been seen in previous wars.

According to Rahav, the source of the infected fungi may be the contamination of the soil with sewage water. The IDF is checking to determine if there is a connection between the seeping sewage and the Hamas tunnels. The Association for Infectious Diseases will hold an emergency discussion on the fungi next week, together with the IDF epidemiology experts.

Rahav noted that the Association for Infectious Diseases is troubled by the number of resistant bacteria and infections found in soldiers who were wounded in the Gaza Strip. “All the hospitals are reporting that soldiers return from the battlefield with resistant infections. We see them mainly in limb injuries, fungal infections, and resistant bacterial infections.”

“We know that Gaza is saturated with highly resistant bacteria. This information was accumulated in studies we did in the past with doctors from Gaza, and we also know these bacteria in children who were transferred for treatment in Israel from Gaza hospitals.”

“Contact with the soil and mud over there results in exposure to resistant bacteria, as well as molds,” she said.

On November 9, The Lancet published an article titled, “Antimicrobial resistance in the ongoing Gaza war: a silent threat,” by Ghassan Abu-Sittah, Fabiola Gordillo Gomez, Antoine Abou Fayad, and Anna Farra, that opened:

“Conflicts and wars, such as those in Iraq and Syria, contribute substantially to the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance. In the Gaza Strip, such resistance is rising, with a 300% increase in resistance to specific antibiotics seen in isolates from injured patients after the Great March of Return demonstrations, compared with non-injured patients. War-related contributing factors to antimicrobial resistance include restricted resources, high casualties, suboptimal infection prevention control, and environmental pollution from infrastructure destruction and heavy metals released from explosives.

“Before the start of the war on Oct 7, 2023, inadequate wastewater management in Gaza led to bacterial contamination in 34% of hospitals’ water and surface samples with high resistance to antibiotics, particularly to carbapenems and cephalosporins. Access to essential antibiotics, primarily through donations, has been a continuous challenge due to the blockade of Gaza, resulting in availability as low as 45%. An already restricted national surveillance system for antimicrobial resistance adds to these challenges.”


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