The Health and Environmental Protection ministries have instructed local authorities to carry out pest control against mosquitoes for fear of the Zika virus spreading in Israel, after two additional cases of Zika patients were diagnosed in Rishon Letzion and Holon. Both patients were infected abroad.
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In recent months about 17 people with the virus entered Israel. All have recovered. No incident has originated in Israel. The risk of a spread of the virus is greater in countries with Aedes mosquitoes, especially Aedes aegypti, considered the main carrier. Although the Egyptian version is uncommon in Israel, another mosquito from the same family, considered a secondary carrier – does exists here.
The World Health Organization estimated in May that 18 European countries, including Israel, have a moderate chance of a virus outbreak.
The Health Ministry has focused until now on instructions to tourists to or from affected countries, or those who had sexual relations with them, as well as to doctors, clinics and hospitals.
The Zika virus was first discovered over 60 years ago in Uganda. It’s considered not particularly harmful and usually the affected person isn’t even aware of it. The symptoms are generally a medium-grade fever and a rash, which disappear within a few days. As far as is known a small percentage of cases may cause a neurological syndrome called guillain barre, which usually causes temporary paralysis.
The virus’ connection to microcephaly (abnormal smallness of the head) in newborns began last year as a theory, when a correlation was found between pregnant women with Zika and microcephaly. Research has now proven that there is such a connection. Some doctors say microcephaly is only one reflection of the virus in fetuses, and believe the virus is responsible for many diseases and neurological damage in newborns that have yet to be researched.
The Health Ministry and Environmental Protection Ministry stated that local governments, on the instructions of the Environmental Protection Ministry, are carrying out pest control against mosquitoes in the region, and asking residents to heed instructions to prevent unnecessary exposure to the pesticides.
The ministries stressed the need for protection against mosquito bites to prevent infection. There is also a need to prevent and reduce breeding sites for mosquitoes, especially standing water like that in saucers for potted plants and in vases. The instructions apply to the entire country.