West Nile virus claims third Israeli life

A third person was reported by the Health Ministry to have died on Monday from the recent outbreak of the malignant West Nile virus, while 14 others are in critical condition.

The third casualty of the dangerous disease was a 61-year-old man.

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“The outbreak of infectious diseases such as West Nile virus is here to stay – and more than that, due to climate change in the world, we are expecting to deal with new diseases that we have not seen until now,” the Environmental Protection Ministry warned.

The first casualty was a 76-year-old man who passed away three weeks ago in Assuta Hospital in Ashdod, according to media reports.

The – an 85-year-old man who had been dealing with another unidentified illness – on Thursday.

In a statement, the ministry said most of the patients who have difficult cases of the virus are elderly and had other health ailments beforehand.

The ministry noted that “in Europe too, many cases are reported,” saying that Italy has faced 123 cases this year with three deaths, and Serbia has faced 126 cases with 11 deaths.

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Official data published Tuesday revealed the number of patients infected, indicating that the disease is spreading.

The West Nile virus is commonly hosted by birds and transmitted to humans by mosquito bites.

Symptoms can include fevers, headaches and muscle pain; the virus is rarely fatal. No vaccine currently exists to protect against infection.

In Israel, the virus mainly appears from mid-August to mid-October and has been most prevalent in northern areas of the country this summer.

The Environmental Protection Ministry has issued repeated warnings concerning the areas where the virus is found. In a release at the beginning of last week, the ministry said infected mosquitoes were discovered in Caesarea, Binyamina and the Gezer region.

Oren Oppenheim contributed to this report.

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