68 hospitalized with West Nile fever; teenager in critical condition

Health Ministry records twice as many cases as last year; tests confirm mosquitoes carrying disease found in coastal regions

Illustrative image of a mosquito biting through skin. (iStock by Getty Images/nechaev-kon)
Illustrative image of a mosquito biting through skin. (iStock by Getty Images/nechaev-kon)

A teenager is in critical condition and 67 other people have been hospitalized with West Nile fever in what health officials said is the largest number of cases in recent years.

The 18-year-old resident of southern Israel is suffering from organ failure, and is being kept sedated and on a respirator in Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center where he has been treated for the past two days, according to reports.

Another six people have been hospitalized in serious condition with the mosquito-transmitted disease this month, the Ynet news website said, in addition to the dozens who were treated for the disease who were in mild or moderate condition.

This represented a doubling of the number of cases as compared to last year.

Earlier this week, tests confirmed that mosquitoes carrying the virus were found in coastal areas, including the Menashe Regional Council, Alona Regional Council, Pardes Hannah, Binyamina and Caesarea.

The Environmental Protection Ministry warned residents to protect themselves against insect bites and called on the local authorities to spray insecticide in areas where there are large numbers of mosquitoes or larvae.

The peak season for the West Nile fever in Israel is between August and October. The incubation period in humans is 3-15 days

Symptoms include fever, rash, headache, and rarely, more serious side-effects such as meningitis could develop.

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