Mosquitoes with West Nile virus identified in southern Israel

Mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus discovered in Arava region. Government calls on local authorities to increase monitoring.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,


Following routine tests carried out by the Ministry of Environmental Protection in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, for the first time this year, mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus were identified in Israel, in Moshav Idan in the Central Arava Regional Council.

As soon as laboratory results were received from the Ministry of Health, the Southern District of the Ministry of Environmental Protection updated the Central Arava Regional Council with the results, and demanded that the local authority expand the scope of supervision and control, if necessary, of the mosquitoes in its area.

In the wake of the rainy winter, stagnant water is present throughout the country, and there is concern over possible potential widespread growth in mosquito populations. In order to prevent high rates of sickness with West Nile virus and mosquito nuisances this year, all local authorities throughout the country are being called on to step up their actions to reduce mosquito hazards by expanding monitoring and control of mosquitoes in their territory.

Alon Zasak, Senior Deputy Director General for Natural Resources at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, called on the local authorities to increase efforts to eliminate the hazards, while noting that the public can also act to reduce the number of mosquitoes through simple means, including drying water sources in courtyards, roofs and shelters, alongside notification of the local authority for every mosquito nuisance in the public domain. In addition, it is recommended to protect against mosquito bites by placing nets over the windows of one’s house and applying mosquito repellants whenever one is in a mosquito-infested area.

Infection with West Nile Virus is caused by a virus found mainly in birds, and transmitted to humans through mosquito bites.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Most people infected with West Nile virus either don't develop signs or symptoms or have only minor ones, such as fever and mild headache. However, some people develop a life-threatening illness that includes inflammation of the spinal cord or brain.”

“Mild signs and symptoms of a West Nile virus infection generally go away on their own. But severe signs and symptoms — such as a severe headache, fever, disorientation or sudden weakness — require immediate attention.”

In Israel, an inter-ministerial network is in place to detect the West Nile virus by monitoring the virus in mosquitoes. Mosquito collection in the field is carried out by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, while mosquito identification and virus testing are carried out in the laboratories of the Ministry of Health.