Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva
Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva
Photo: Eliad Levi
Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva

Southern Israel sees outbreak of Legionnaires' disease

Unusual outbreak of bacterial pneumonia is believed to come from contaminated water source in Negev city of Dimona, with seven non-related patients already being treated in hospital, some in serious condition

Adir Yanko |
Published: 11.12.20 , 23:50
Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva has diagnosed seven residents of the Negev desert city of Dimona with Legionnaires' disease in the past two weeks.
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  • Three of the patients are in serious condition and no direct contact between any of the seven has been determined.
    Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva
    Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva
    (Photo: Eliad Levi)
    Legionnaires' disease, an atypical pneumonia caused by any type of Legionella bacteria, is not transmittable between people and is often found in infected water sources such as deep puddles, water fountains, hot tubs and pools that are not chlorinated.
    It is detected via a PCR test similar to the one administered for COVID-19 or through a test of a suspected patient's urine.
    A shopping center in Dimona closed due to coronavirus restrictions A shopping center in Dimona closed due to coronavirus restrictions
    A shopping center in Dimona closed due to coronavirus restrictions
    (Photo: Roee Idan)
    Symptoms include severe pneumonia, but even before that appears patients will suffer from diarrhea, fever and muscle aches. Legionnaires' disease is treatable with antibiotics.
    "We have no doubt more cases will appear," said Dr. Lior Nesher, an epidemiologist at Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva.
    "This is a foreign infection in our region and when it appears it usually comes in outbreaks as people breathe in air contaminated by the bacteria," he said.
    הבירה הבאה של הנגב?הבירה הבאה של הנגב?
    The Negev city of Dimona
    "It's been years since we've had such an outbreak. We've alerted the medical teams in Dimona and [Soroka] to be on the lookout for more cases and have urged health officials to expedite their investigation and find the source of the disease."
    Dimona municipal officials said they have begun an extensive epidemiological investigation to find the source, which is expected to take several days.
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