Sixty-five Israeli Soldiers Sent Home From Tank Base With Contagious Skin Infection

Troops had symptoms of impetigo; 60 others kept in isolation on base

Israeli soldiers stand on top of a tank near the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip August 2, 2014.
Reuters

Sixty-five Israeli soldiers were sent home Tuesday from a training base in the south after showing symptoms of impetigo, a highly infectious bacterial skin disease.

This is not the first time soldiers have been infected with impetigo, which is spread by bacteria, on army bases of combat units. Experience has shown that the cause is poor hygiene and sanitation conditions.

Another 60 tank corps soldiers on the Shizafon Armored Corps advanced training base, who have also reported symptoms of the skin disease, are being kept under conditions of isolation and rest on the base – until the results of laboratory tests are received to identify the disease.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office said that in light of complaints from soldiers on the Shizafon base about skin irritation, a wide-scale examination was made by dermatological medical experts who came to the base. Samples were taken from the soldiers and flown to the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer to identify the source of the infection. All the soldiers are now undergoing medical tests and will receive full medical treatment, said the IDF.

A number of steps were decided on for now to prevent the spread of the disease. All the healthy soldiers in the companies where the disease has been identified will undergo daily skin examinations by the company medics. These companies will not conduct Krav Maga training, crawling exercises or rope climbing to prevent damage to their skin and reduce the likelihood of further infection.

The IDF does not know the cause of the outbreak on the base, and a Medical Corps team is examining it.

Impetigo is a rather common infectious skin disease caused by two types of bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes, and is highly contagious. It usually appears as lesions on the superficial skin. A number of outbreaks have occurred on IDF bases in the past, including in the naval officers’ training course and in the Duvdevan commando unit.