The death of a badly wounded IDF soldier in an Israeli hospital who was infected with a dangerous strain of fungus while fighting in the Gaza Strip has raised concerns about disease in Gaza affecting troops and possibly spreading to Israeli civilians.
According to a Kan public broadcaster report, the soldier was brought to Assuta Ashdod Medical Center two weeks ago with severe limb injuries. Despite round-the-clock care, the fungus proved to be treatment-resistant and the soldier succumbed to his wounds.
Military medical officials have not yet determined his cause of death, but confirm that there are isolated cases of similar fungal infections among wounded soldiers returning from Gaza.
Civilian experts who spoke with The Times of Israel warned that cases of potentially deadly fungal infections — and other serious afflictions among soldiers — are less isolated than has been reported.
All Israeli hospitals have reported that a significant percentage of wounded soldiers have come back with serious antimicrobial-resistant infections that they’ve picked up through contact with contaminated soil, among other factors, said Prof. Nadav Davidovitch, an epidemiologist who heads Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s School of Public Health.
He noted that currently, there are not large numbers of soldiers sick with the illnesses spreading among Gazans.
The war between Israel and Hamas has led to the destruction of large swaths of Gaza and the internal displacement of the vast majority of its population, resulting in what is being described as a humanitarian crisis for the Palestinians living in ruins and refugee tent camps. These conditions have led to outbreaks of various diseases, which can potentially threaten the well-being of the hundreds of thousands of IDF troops fighting in Gaza. They can also ultimately spell trouble for public health in Israel. [Continue reading…]