update deskIsrael News

West Nile outbreak in Israel kills two

Twenty-one people have been diagnosed with the mosquito-borne virus, including 17 who have been hospitalized with neurological symptoms, according to the Israeli Health Ministry.

Known as a vector for the West Nile virus, this Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito has landed on a human finger and is preparing to bite the affected person. Image courtesy CDC/James Gathany. Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images.
Known as a vector for the West Nile virus, this Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito has landed on a human finger and is preparing to bite the affected person. Image courtesy CDC/James Gathany. Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images.

Two people have died in Israel of an early summer outbreak of West Nile virus, according to the country’s Health Ministry. Both were women in their 80s.

Twenty-one people have been diagnosed with the mosquito-borne virus, including 17 who have been hospitalized with neurological symptoms.

Although most of those infected do not display symptoms, about 20%, primarily the elderly and immune-compromised people, will develop flu-like symptoms, including fever, general malaise, headaches or general body aches, according to the ministry.

Neurological complications will appear in less than 1% of those infected.

While West Nile virus is not unknown in Israel, it typically shows up later in the summer, and does not impact large numbers of people.

This summer’s unusually early outbreak was first reported earlier this month in north Tel Aviv. 

People in the center of Israel are most at risk from the disease as the area’s high humidity creates an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.

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