Daily Israel Report

Germs Carried by Wounded Syrians 'Endangering Israelis'

Report: Syrians being treated in Israeli hospitals carry bacteria that are highly resistant to antibiotics.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 11/26/2013, 11:03 AM

Israeli doctors in action (illustration)
Israeli doctors in action (illustration)
Flash 90

About one third of the wounded Syrians who received treatment in recent months in hospitals in northern Israel carry an abnormally high number of bacteria, some of which are either uncommon or unknown in Israel. Some of these bacteria are resistant to all effective antibiotic treatments, reports Israel Hayom, based on statements by senior medical sources in the Health Ministry Directorate and internal documents.

The Syrians are being treated for injuries suffered in the civil war that has been raging in their country for the past three years.

CRE germs, which are resistant to all antibiotics, can be inadvertently passed from patient to patient by means of the medical staff and cause serious infections, especially in old patients and other "complex" patients, the newspaper says. These cases can result in death in more than one third of the elderly patients infected.

The health establishment is mostly concerned with the possibility that the germs will remain in the hospitals where the wounded Syrians receive treatment, and then migrate to the rest of Israel's hospitals. An internal Health Ministry document warned that the Syrian patients require special isolation, which is not available at the hospitals where they are being treated.

Prof. Ronny Gamzo, Ministry Director, is quoted as telling colleagues in a discussion devoted to the matter that the Foreign Ministry needs to be notified of the danger to Israel's health system. He asked point blank, why Israel feels it must take in these patients, when its health system cannot handle them properly.

About 350 Syrians have been treated thus far, mostly in the hospitals located in Tzfat and Nahariya, but also at Tverya's Poriya Hospital and Haifa's Rambam Hospital. Prof. Gamzo told Israel Hayom that the military is now aware that the transfer of wounded Syrians needs to be "reduced, as far as possible."

Both sides in the Syrian civil war, which pits the regime of Bashar Assad, supported by Iran and Hezbollah, against Islamists with Al Qaeda affiliations, are hostile to Israel.