Fear: Israeli may have returned from Mexico with swine flu
Doctors attempting to determine whether 26-year-old man who returned from Mexico with signs of flu has been infected with fatal virus. Foreign Ministry asks Israelis visiting, planning to visit Mexico to adhere to Health Ministry's instructions so to minimize risk of infection. Israeli pig farmers believe there is no reason for concern
A 26-year-old man was hospitalized Sunday at the Laniado Hospital in Netanya after returning from Mexico with signs of flu. The man has been isolated and doctors are trying to determine whether he has been infected with the swine flu virus, which has led to the death of dozens of people in Mexico.
The hospital's director-general, Prof. Avinoam Skolnik, told Ynet he believes the young man does not have swine flu. "I'm saying this based on doctors' tests and based on the results of some of the lab tetst."
However, the only person responsible for treating the patient and the only one in charge of ordering the patient out of quarantine is the Health Ministry's district doctor.
Earlier Sunday, the Foreign Ministry asked Israelis who are visiting or planning to visit Mexico to adhere to the Health Ministry's instructions in order to avoid and minimize the risk of swine flu.
With the potentially deadly virus running rampant through Mexico, the Health Ministry posted a set of precautionary measures on its website, as well as briefed local hospital's on treatment protocols in case of an outbreak in Israel.
The recommendations include maintaining personal hygiene, avoiding restaurants exhibiting questionable sanitary standards and most importantly – avoiding mass public gatherings as much as possible.
Nevertheless, the Foreign Ministry has not published a travel advisory for the region.
"There is no reason to panic, "said Dr. Itamar Grotto, head of the Health Ministry's Public Health Department. "We have to keep a close eye on things... We have plenty of Tamiflu (the drug used to treat avian and swine flu) and it can be distributed to hospitals in a matter of hours."
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yossi Levy added that the Israeli Embassy in Mexico has cancelled its Independence Day reception, in compliance with the Mexican government's request to avoid large public gatherings pending the curbing of the virus.
As a further precautionary, Magen David Adom emergency services ordered the Blood Bank to avoid using donors who have returned from Mexico, California and Texas in the past week.
Pig farmers: Nothing to worry about
The World Health Organization declared the swine flu outbreak in North America a "public health emergency of international concern." WHO fears the outbreak could spread to other countries and is calling for a coordinated response to contain it.
Despite the noted panic worldwide, pig farmers in Israel remain unfazed. "We run a closed farm. It's rather secluded and we do not allow visitors," said Moshe Tayar of Kibbutz Lahav in southern Israel.
The Negev kibbutz houses one of the largest pig farms in Israel, and its sanitary code is known as one of the strictest in the world. "We are in constant contact with the health and veterinarian authorities, and the animals are tested on a regular basis," he added. "We are disease free."
The Israeli Veterinarian Service, said Tayar, has yet to publish any guidelines concerning swine flu in Israel, but should it does, the farm will comply with them in full.
Roni Gal, Ilana Curiel and Ahiya Raved contributed to this report