Ben-Yizri: Bacteria spreading, no reason to panic

Wednesday, March 07, 2007 |  by Staff Writer
Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri announced on Wednesday morning an increase in the mortality rate from a bacterium called Klebsiella pneumoniae which has already been the cause of death for 120 to 200 patients across the country.

“Between 400 to 500 people have been infected by the bug, and 30 to 40 percent of them have already died,” said Prof. Yehuda Carmeli, the head of the epidemiology unit at the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv. “However, it is important to note that most of them were in a serious condition, and some were suffering from prior medical conditions.”

Ben-Yizri said on Wednesday morning that the problem was being investigated, but that there was no reason to panic. He added that the Health Ministry was investigating to see if other countries were encountering similar problems with the bacteria and if there were antibiotics available.

Prof. Avi Yisraeli, the ministry director-general, confirmed that nobody outside of the hospitals was in any immediate danger, but only those who are very ill are at risk.

“This is not the first time that there is a virulent strain of bacteria undefeated by antibiotics, and it is happening abroad as well,” Yisraeli said.

Klebsiella pneumoniae is normally found in the mouth, skin and intestines and can cause pneumonia. It is generally found in patients with weak immune systems and or in the elderly.

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