update deskIsrael at War

IDF reservist rushed experimental drug after fungal infection in Gaza

The medicine was brought from Ireland • A soldier died in December from the same fungus.

IDF soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip, Jan. 13, 2024. Credit: IDF
IDF soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip, Jan. 13, 2024. Credit: IDF

An Israel Defense Forces reservist is hospitalized at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan in serious condition after being infected by a dangerous type of fungus found in the soil of the Gaza Strip a few weeks ago.

An experimental antifungal drug called Fosmanogepix is being delivered to Israel from Ireland after an effort was made to reach out to the drug’s co-developer Pfizer.

The soldier’s family worked on getting the drug with the coordination of the hospital and the shipment was made after the community mobilized in support.

A couple of Israelis flew to Ireland to obtain the drug from the WEP Clinical company that produces it, but the effort was delayed because the company is closed on Sunday. However, the medicine was finally secured.

In December, an Israeli soldier died after being infected by the Gaza fungus.

The soldier was transported to Assuta Ashdod Medical Center, suffering from serious limb wounds infected by the fungus. The medical staff attempted every treatment possible, including experimental treatments from abroad, and brought in experts, but the fungus proved resistant and eventually overtook his organs, resulting in his death.

Professor Galia Rahab, chairperson of the Infectious Diseases Association and former director of the Infectious Diseases Unit at Sheba Hospital, said at the time that around 10 other soldiers were infected with the deadly strain from Gaza.

Rahab told Kan that these fungi were not seen in previous wars in the Gaza Strip and that the source may have been soil contaminated by sewage. It is unknown whether there is a connection to Hamas’s tunnel network and the matter is under investigation.

The Infectious Diseases Association was to hold an emergency discussion on the fungus along with Israel Defense Forces epidemiology experts.

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