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Date and Time Display Wednesday, December 27, 2023 at 6:21:04 pm

Deadly fungus kills Israel soldier who fought in Gaza; 10 more likely infected


An Israeli soldier who got infected with a deadly strain of fungus while fighting in the Gaza Strip died, raising concerns about the outbreak of diseases in the battleground among soldiers and possible spread to civilians. 

The soldier, who was rushed to a hospital in Israel two weeks ago with severe limb injuries, died after the fungus he contracted from Gaza proved to be treatment-resistant. As many as 10 soldiers have been found to have contracted the virus, reported The Times of Israel.

However, neither the IDF nor the hospital authorities have confirmed that the soldier’s death was the result of an infection contracted in Gaza.

Prof. Eyal Leshem, director of the Center for Travel Medicine and Tropical Diseases at Sheba Medical Center, told an Israeli news channel that field conditions in Gaza meant that wounded soldiers were at risk of infection. 

“Some of those wounded in the Gaza Strip have complex infections that are the result of the field conditions. When there is an injury in the field, we tend to see bacteria and fungi that originate from the soil,” Leshem said. “We have known about these infections for many years — American forces operating in Iraq and Afghanistan also reported similar infections.”

“The soil is not sterile, but contains bacteria, molds and fungi,” Leshem said. “When there are open wounds, there is a fear that those agents will penetrate and contaminate the area.”

Experts are also concerned that the infection might spread from soldiers to civilians. 

There were grave concerns for the health of those kidnapped and still held in Gaza. Hagai Levine, the head of the medical team for the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, told Israeli media that similar cases had been seen in hostages released from Gaza.

“Among the hostages who came back, we know of several cases of invasive infections and serious injuries,” Levine said. “Hostages who were injured on October 7, and were treated in poor conditions, suffered from infections. “Therefore, we are very worried about the contaminated injuries of hostages who have not yet been released, which shows the urgency for the release of the hostages so that they can be brought to Israel for treatment as soon as possible,” he said.


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