1.Mosquitos – In the hot, humid areas of Israel, mosquitos are everywhere. Mosquitos are usually present in the early morning and late afternoon to evening hours. Mosquito bites are identified as a single bite surrounded by localized inflammation (a red bump)
The vast majority of mosquitos in Israel are just annoying. However, Culex and Asian tiger mosquitoes are in Israel. These pests are responsible for the West Nile virus. Read here about the outbreak of the West Nile virus.
Prevention: Stay covered as much as possible and use a medically approved repellent on all exposed skin (or even skin-tight clothes) during the hours of mosquito activity. If itchy, apply anti-itch cream to the area. Itching can cause secondary skin infections, which look like the redness is spreading and getting hot and more swollen. Infected mosquito bites may cause cellulitis or an infection of the deeper layer of tissue under the skin. These infections require antibiotics.
2. Spiders - There are two poisonous spiders in Israel: the Black Widow and the Mediterranean Recluse Spider. Spider bites can be identified as two marks a few millimeters apart. A Black Widow bite is generally accompanied by light pains, which the victim doesn’t always feel. The significant reactions occur later, once the venom has spread. The venom contains neurotoxic components which cause muscle cramps, stomach pains, vomiting, sweating, arrhythmia, and a sharp rise in blood pressure. Treatment is symptomatic, and most victims do not require an anti-venom serum.
The Mediterranean Recluse Spider, whose bite is rarely felt, is equipped with a poison that causes tissue necrosis, which can develop hours or even days after the bite. In most cases, only local treatment is required. Some patients will experience a systemic response in 24-72 hours. This includes fever, chills, vomiting, weakness, and kidney injury. This is a rare response. There is no anti-venom serum for a Mediterranean Recluse Spider bite.
Any sign of an infected spider bite requires medical attention at an urgent care facility. Serious effects (rare) of spider bites may require ER evaluation or even admission.
Prevention: Do not reach under stones or branches where spiders may be hiding. When camping, take great care when you wake up, check the tent and the sleeping bag, and shake clothes and shoes (outside the tent) before putting them on. Taking these preventative measures will hopefully help you avoid any dangerous situations.
3. Sand Flies - These nocturnal mosquito-like insects are active and bite from dusk to dawn and are often found in forests, stone and mud walls, cracks, and animal burrows. They are most active from June through October. They are very tiny silent flyers – they do not hum – and their bite might go unnoticed. In Israel, they are mainly found in the Jordan Valley, parts of the Shomron, Galilee, Arava, Negev desert, and Beit She’an area.
The sandflies are carriers of Leishmaniasis, which they contract from dogs, rodents, especially the rock hyrax (a protected, endangered species in Israel), and other wild animals. Leishmaniasis Disease can be a severe illness resulting in skin ulcers, fever, enlarged spleen, and/or damage to the liver. Treatment can be up to a year and includes skin ointments and strong antibiotics.
Prevention: In high-risk areas, stay inside in the evening hours. If outside, use an insect repellant, including the face area. Open windows at night only if there is a screen. Avoid areas where rock hyraxes live at night. Use air conditioners and fans at night, and wear long loose clothes.
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