The Ministry of Health advises that the West Nile Fever virus has commenced its activity for the summer of 2014
In the month of July this year, three patients were diagnosed with West Nile Fever, marking the beginning of this disease’s season in Israel.
Since the beginning of the year, 15 West Nile Fever patients have been identified; 2 with a definite diagnosis and 13 with a possible diagnosis. The spatial distribution of the virus was from the Haifa and Afula region in the North to the Ashkelon region in the south, in 12 townships/cities. In the Gush Dan area, 6 patients have so far been identified. In 2013, 71 cases were reported and 4 of these patients died, while in 2012, 89 cases were reported and two of these patients died.
West Nile Fever is usually a mild disease, but there are also cases of severe morbidity and even mortality from this disease. The Ministry of Health recommends that the public take the necessary precautions to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. For example: use mosquito repellents, screens on the windows and suitable clothing.
It is recommended that cases of mosquito nuisances or stagnant water be reported immediately to local authorities.
- West Nile Fever is a disease caused by West Nile Virus (WNV). This virus is found in nature in birds. Mosquitoes that bite infected birds can convey the disease to humans.
- Infection usually passes without signs. In some cases, an influenza-like illness occurs that resolves by itself. Signs are: fever, headache, weakness, joint and muscle pain, conjunctivitis, rash and sometimes nausea and diarrhea. In approximately 1% of patients, the disease is severe, with neurological signs consistent with meningitis or encephalitis or acute flaccid paralysis.
- The incubation period is usually 7 to 14 days, and in extraordinary instances, 3 to 21 days.
- There is no specific treatment for this disease. The main effort is therefore directed to prevention.
- Protection against mosquito bites is the cornerstone of prevention of this disease. This protection should occur at three levels: public (informing local government authorities of mosquito nuisances), domestic (intact screens, use of air conditioner, closed doors) and personal (long sleeved clothing and application of mosquito repellants in the afternoon and nighttime hours).