Mosquitos with West Nile virus found near Yeruham after heavy rains

Government announces first detection of infected mosquitos this year, urges local authorities to be on the lookout for more; 1 person has died this year of disease

Illustrative: A stream in Yeruham Park in southern Israel, October 21, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
Illustrative: A stream in Yeruham Park in southern Israel, October 21, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Mosquitos carrying West Nile virus were found near the southern city of Yeruham and surrounding Ramat Negev Regional Council, the first time the disease has been detected in Israel this year, government authorities said Wednesday.

The Environmental Protection Ministry said the infected mosquitos were found in Nahal Revivim, near Lake Yeruham, and outside nearby educational campuses at Nitzana and Midreshet Ben Gurion.

It instructed local authorities to keep a closer eye out for mosquitos with West Nile virus and if needed “immediately carry out preventive measures and pest control,” according to a joint statement with the Health Ministry.

Those infected with West Nile virus typically experience flu-like symptoms and recover within a week, but in some cases the disease is fatal. According to the Health Ministry, one person has died this year from the virus.

In August 2022, the Health Ministry reported that one person had died of the virus and another was in serious condition after West Nile was found in mosquitos near Eilat in July.

The Environmental Protection Ministry attributed the earlier detection this year to recent rains in the south that were followed by high temperatures, noting mosquitos thrive in heat and water.

The ministry also called on Israelis to take measures to avoid mosquito bites, such as using repellants and netting, reducing the amount of water for irrigating, and ensuring there are no objects or areas around the house with stagnant water.

In 2020, mosquitos carrying West Nile virus spread as far as the Tel Aviv area, and in 2018, dozens were hospitalized in the largest outbreak in recent years.

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