According to Israeli health officials, at least 74 cases of West Nile virus, including three associated fatalities, have been reported throughout the country as of Saturday, September 1. The most affected areas include Emek HaMaayanot, Gezer, Megilot, Mateh Yehuda, Menashe, Megiddo, Alona, and Gush Etzion. Further spread of the outbreak is possible in the coming weeks.
West Nile virus is a disease most commonly transmitted by mosquitoes. The majority of infected people exhibit no symptoms, but it is estimated that 20 percent of infected people exhibit symptoms of West Nile fever and 1 percent develop severe neurological infections such as encephalitis and meningitis, certain effects of which can be permanent. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that people over 50 have an increased risk of becoming severely ill from the West Nile virus.
Travelers in Israel are advised to take measures to protect themselves from mosquito bites - i.e. by wearing covering clothing, using insect repellent, and sleeping in an air-conditioned room - and to eliminate possible mosquito breeding grounds in and around their residences (e.g. small pockets of fresh water, such as rainwater that has collected in cans, bottles, tires, flower pots, clogged gutters, etc.). Individuals exhibiting symptoms of serious infection should seek medical attention immediately.