• IMA sites
  • IMAJ services
  • IMA journals
  • Follow us
  • Alternate Text Alternate Text
עמוד בית
Tue, 16.07.24

Search results


January 2015
Zohar Mor MD MPH MPH, Orly Weinstein MD MHA, Dini Tischler-Aurkin MD MPA, Alex Leventhal MD MPH MPA, Alon Yaniv and Itamar Grotto MD PhD MPH

Background: Since 2006 more than 60,000 migrants arrived in Israel from the Horn of Africa (HoA: Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia). They were detained in prison and screened for tuberculosis (TB) by means of an interview and chest X-ray (CXR).

Objectives: To evaluate the yield of this screening process.

Methods: This cross-sectional study evaluated the validity of CXR in a random sample of 1087 of the 5335 HoA migrants (20.4%) who arrived in 2009, and assessed its related costs.

Results: Sixty-two migrants (5.7%) had CXRs with TB-suspicious findings, and 11 of them were finally diagnosed with TB (17.7% of all TB-suspicious CXRs). TB point-prevalence was 1000 cases per 100,000 migrants (1.0%). As no additional TB cases were diagnosed on arrival, CXR sensitivity, specificity and positive predictive value were 100%, 96.1% and 17.7%, respectively. The interview did not contribute to the detection of migrants with TB. Direct costs related to the detection of single TB cases in prison was 17,970 shekels (US$ 4585), lower than the treating cost of 28,745 shekels ($ 7335). During 2008–2010, 88 HoA migrants who had been screened at the prison after crossing the border were later diagnosed with TB in the community. The average annual TB incidence was 132 cases/100,000 migrants. We traced 56 (63.6%) of the CXRs that were performed during detention. Of those, 41 (73.2%) were unremarkable, 8 (14.2%) were TB suspicious and 7 (12.5%) had non-TB-related abnormalities.

Conclusions: CXR-based screening is a valid and cost-saving tool for screening  HoA migrants for TB; the interview has significant limitations. 

June 2011
E. Anis, A. Leventhal, I. Grotto, D. Gandacu , B. Warshavsky , A. Shimshony and A. Israeli

Background: The majority of human brucellosis cases in Israel are caused by the ingestion of unpasteurized dairy foods produced from unlicensed family-owned flocks whose products are sold door-to-door at low prices. Exposure to infected farm animals is another major cause of infection.

Objectives: To determine, by examining recent incidence data and brucellosis control programs, whether a reduction in the incidence of human brucellosis in Israel can be sustained.

Methods: Case information is reported to the Health Ministry and national data are compiled and analyzed by the Division of Epidemiology. The current study focuses on data from 1998 through 2009 and discusses several of the major prevention and health education programs that have been implemented.

Results: An incidence decline of almost 70% during the period 1998–2002 was followed by a return to previously existing levels, although the incidence has remained consistently lower than in past decades. The disease is mostly limited to certain sectors of the rural Arab population. In 2009 the incidence rate per 100,000 population was 7.0 among Arabs compared with 0.2 among Jews. Between 1998 and 2009, 63% of cases were from the Beer Sheva and Acre health districts, which together comprise 15.5% of the Israeli population. Control programs - including efforts to combat brucellosis in animals and to discourage the sale of unpasteurized homemade dairy products - have met with partial success.

Conclusions: Without routine vaccination of all family-owned flocks, more effective restraints on the market for unpasteurized dairy foods and improved regional cooperation, human brucellosis will continue to be a contained, but persistent, health problem in Israel due to cultural behavior, socioeconomic factors, and the regional political environment.
 

March 2008
Z. Mor, A. Adler, A. Leventhal, I. Volovic, E. Rosenfeld, M.N. Lobato and D. Chemtob

Background: The crowded environment of correctional facilities may enhance infectious diseases transmission, such as tuberculosis.

Objectives: To define the tuberculosis burden in prisons in Israel, a country of low TB[1] incidence (7.9 cases:100,000 population in 2004), in which about 13,000 inmates are being incarcerated annually, and to recommend policy adaptations for TB control.

Methods: All prison clinic lung records from 1998 through 2004 in Israel were reviewed to identify pulmonary TB patients. Additionally, we reviewed TB epidemiological investigation files from one northern prison (years 2002 through 2005) to evaluate possible transmission of the disease.

Results: During the study period 23 Israeli inmates had pulmonary TB (25 cases/100,000 prisoners), which was 3.5 times higher than for the general population. Of those, 18 (78%) were born in the Former Soviet Union and immigrated to Israel after 1990. Four pulmonary TB cases in the evaluated prison were reported, and 22% (149/670) of all inmates and staff were referred for treatment of latent TB infection.

Conclusions: To prevent future TB cases, we recommend new prevention measures, including a symptom questionnaire for all new inmates and selective tuberculin skin testing for inmates infected with human immunodeficiency virus/AIDS, those who inject drugs, and those who emigrated from the former Soviet Union after 1990. New staff should be screened by the two-step tuberculin skin test and annual symptoms questionnaire thereafter. Incarceration may be used as a point of detection for TB and a window of opportunity for treatment in this hard-to-reach population. 






[1] TB =tuberculosis


August 2007
J. Zlotogora, Z. Haklai and A. Leventhal

Background: The national program for the prevention of Down syndrome includes screening (using the triple test) and invasive diagnostic tests in women at risk for a Down syndrome pregnancy. However, despite the program, the majority of Down syndrome infants are born alive (approximately 1/1000 live births)

Objectives: To determine whether the relatively high incidence of Down syndrome at birth in Israel is the result of failure of the preventive program or due to informed choices of the mothers.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective study using the national registry of Down syndrome for the years 1997 and 2004, according to the mothers' religion and place of residence and the reasons for prenatal diagnosis.

Results: Most of the babies affected with Down syndrome are born in religious or traditional conservative communities where termination of pregnancy is usually not an option.

Conclusions: In a pluralistic society like Israel with its diverse communities and dissimilar religious backgrounds and traditions, the different attitudes concerning utilization of the national program should be respected. It is necessary to tailor different approaches and solutions for the various ethnic and religious communities according to their need.
 

September 2006
J. Zlotogora, Y. Amitai and A. Leventhal

Background: Open neural tube defects are among the most common severely disabling birth defects. Secondary prevention by early diagnosis during pregnancy and abortion of affected fetuses lead to a marked reduction of NTD[1] incidence at birth. For primary prevention of these defects, in August 2000 the Israel Ministry of Health issued guidelines recommending a daily 0.4 mg folic acid supplement for all women in their childbearing years with special emphasis on the 3 months preceding conception and the first trimester of pregnancy.

Objectives: To compare the epidemiologic characteristics of NTD in Israel before and after the guidelines for folic acid supplementation.

Methods: A national registry of NTD was begun in 1999. Since the Ministry of Health published the recommendation for folic acid supplementation in mid-2000, the years 1999–2000 represent the status prior to the recommendation and the years 2002–2004 the status after.

Results: A marked decline in the rate of spina bifida was observed in the last 3 years (from 4.9 to 2.7 per 10,000 live births among Jews and 9.5 to 6.2 among Arabs and Druze). There was no apparent reduction for anencephaly.

Conclusions: Following the Ministry of Health guidelines on folic acid supplementation for women in the reproductive age, a marked reduction in the rates of NTD was observed. In light of this apparent success, continuous efforts should be made to increase the percentage of women taking the supplementation and, especially, to introduce folic acid fortification.






[1] NTD = neural tube defects



 
D. Nitzan Kaluski, E. Barak, Z. Kaufman, L. Valinsky, E. Marva, Z. Korenman, Z. Gorodnitzki, R. Yishai, D. Koltai, A. Leventhal, S. Levine, O. Havkin and M.S. Green

Contamination of food with streptococci could present with unusual outbreaks that may be difficult to recognize in the early stages. This is demonstrated in a large food-borne outbreak of streptococcal pharyngitis that occurred in 2003 in a factory in Israel. The outbreak was reported to the public health services on July 2 and an epidemiologic investigation was initiated. Cases and controls were interviewed and throat swabs taken. An estimated 212 cases occurred within the first 4 days, the peak occurring on the second day. There was a wave of secondary cases during an additional 11 days. The early signs were of a respiratory illness including sore throat, weakness and fever, with high absenteeism rates suggesting a respiratory illness. As part of a case-control study, cases and controls were interviewed and throat swabs taken. Illness was significantly associated with consumption of egg-mayonnaise salad (odds ratio 4.2, 95% confidence interval 1.4–12.6), suggesting an incubation period of 12–96 hours. The initial respiratory signs of food-borne streptococcal pharyngitis outbreaks could delay the identification of the vehicle of transmission. This could be particularly problematic in the event of deliberate contamination.

May 2006
L. Moerman, A. Leventhal, P.E. Slater, E. Anis, R. Yishai and E. Marva

Background: Pertussis is the only vaccine-preventable disease that has re-emerged in Israel. The reported crude incidence of the disease increased 16-fold since 1998.

Objectives: To describe the epidemiology of pertussis and to explain the substantial increase in reported pertussis incidence in Israel in recent years.

Methods: Crude and specific pertussis incidence by age, patient immunization status, hospitalization rate and national immunization coverage rate were calculated from information provided by the public health offices of the Ministry of Health.

Results: The reported crude incidence of pertussis increased from 1–2/100,000 in 1994–98 to 23/100,000 in 2004. The trend was observed in all age groups, being most prominent in infants under age 1 year and in children aged 5–14. The incidence of pertussis was substantially higher in unvaccinated and partly vaccinated compared to fully vaccinated persons. Fifteen percent of notified cases were hospitalized, but in infants under age 1 year the hospitalization rate was 50%. National pertussis immunization coverage by age 2 years was stable during the last 10 years.

Conclusions: There are several possible explanations for the re-emergence of pertussis in Israel. The most plausible reason seems to be the waning of vaccine-induced immunity in face of infrequent natural exposure to the infectious agent and lack of a pertussis vaccine booster dose after age 1.
 

January 2006
D. Chemtob, D. Weiler-Ravell, A. Leventhal, H. Bibi

Background: During the last decade, Israel, a country with low tuberculosis rates, absorbed some 900,000 new immigrants from TB[1]-endemic countries.

Objectives: To analyze the specific impact of our screening procedures on active TB among children in Israel.


Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of epidemiologic and clinical data of all children (aged 0–17) with TB notified to the Ministry of Health between 1990 and 1999.


Results: There were 479 children with TB (male/female ratio 1.36). Most cases (81.8%) were foreign born, predominantly (88.2%) immigrants from Ethiopia and, therefore, huge differences existed in TB incidence rates according to countries of origin. Some 80% were diagnosed within 3 years of arrival, mainly due to active case-finding. Pulmonary TB, with infiltrates on chest X-ray, was found in 49.5%. Extra-pulmonary TB sites were: intra-thoracic lymphadenitis (31.1%), extra-thoracic lymphadenitis (12.5%), bones (3.6%), pleura (1.3%), meninges (1%), and others (1%). Seventy percent had a tuberculin skin test reaction ≥10 mm in size. Two (non-immigrant) children died of TB meningitis.


Conclusions: Most of the pediatric TB cases occurred in recent immigrants and were diagnosed within 3 years of immigration. These data support our policy of active case-finding among new immigrants from Ethiopia and extensive contact evaluation for all TB cases.






[1] TB = tuberculosis


September 2003
D. Nitzan Kaluski and A. Leventhal

Only one case of a cow infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy has been reported in Israel. Its publication, in 2002, caused both public and professional concern. The inevitable health policy question raised was whether or not to recommend against consuming beef and what public health measures should be taken. In this article we describe the prion diseases among animals and humans, their interaction and the precautionary procedures that were carried out by the state Veterinary Services and the Ministry of Health since 1988. The BSE[1] case (a 10 year old dairy cow) is believed to be the result of local consumption of infected food with mammalian meat and bone meal more than a decade earlier. The risk assessment took into consideration that no cases of vCJD (a new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease) have ever been diagnosed in Israel, as well as the low risk of contamination of the meat due to the religious method of slaughtering performed in the country. The policy decision was to implement a contingency plan prepared in advance. Israel was reclassified from the level II category of geographic risk where BSE is unlikely but not excluded in the herds, to level III, where BSE is likely but not confirmed, or confirmed at a lower level. No undue damage to the meat industry has occurred. By the end of 2002, despite the examination of more than 3,800 brains from slaughtered cows older than 3 years, no other cases of BSE have been detected.

 







[1] BSE = bovine spongiform encephalopathy


June 2003
J. Zlotogora, A. Leventhal and Y. Amitai

Background: Infant mortality in Israel is twofold higher among non-Jews than Jews.

Objectives: To determine the impact of congenital malformations and Mendelian diseases on infant mortality.

Methods: We compared the causes of infant mortality in a 4 year period among Jewish and non-Jewish Israeli citizens. Classification was done by analyzing all the death reports according to whether or not the child had any known major malformation, Mendelian disease and/or a syndrome, irrespective of the immediate cause of death.

Results: The infant mortality among non-Jews was double that among Jews (9 versus 4.4 per 1,000 live births). The rate of children with malformations/genetic syndromes was 3.1 times higher among non-Jews than among Jews (2.94 vs. 1.25 per 1,000 live births). The most significant difference was in the rate of Mendelian diseases, which were 8.3 times more frequent in non-Jewish children (0.16 vs. 1.33 per 1,000 live births respectively). A Mendelian disease was diagnosed in almost 15% of the non-Jewish infants and in less than 5% of the Jewish infants.

Conclusions: The most striking difference between the Jewish and non-Jewish infants was the incidence of congenital malformations and Mendelian diseases parallel to the differences in the consanguinity rates between the two populations.
 

April 2003
D. Nizan Kaluski, T.H. Tulchinsky, A. Haviv, Y. Averbicj. S. Rachmiel, E.B. Berry and A. Leventhal

Micronutrient deficiencies have reoccupied the center stage of public health policy with the realization that folic acid deficiency results in neural tube defects and possibly other birth defects as well as ischemic heart disease. These, in turn, have raised an older debate on food fortification policy for the elimination of iodine, iron and vitamin D deficiencies. Data from the First Israeli National Health and Nutrition Survey (MABAT 2000) provided an impetus to develop an active national nutrition policy aimed to improve the nutritional status of iodine, iron, vitamins A and D and B-vitamins, including folate. In this paper we examine some of the MND[1] issues in Israel and their implications for public health, and suggest options for the formulation of policy.






[1] MND = micronutrient deficiency



 
January 2003
M. Huerta, R.D. Balicer and A. Leventhal

During September 2002, Israel began its current revaccination program against smallpox, targeting previously vaccinated “first responders” among medical and emergency workers. In order to identify the potential strengths and weaknesses of this program and the conditions under which critical decisions were reached, we conducted a SWOT analysis of the current Israeli revaccination program, designed to identify its intrinsic strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities for its success and threats against it. SWOT analysis – a practical tool for the study of public health policy decisions and the social and political contexts in which they are reached - revealed clear and substantial strengths and weaknesses of the current smallpox revaccination program, intrinsic to the vaccine itself. A number of threats were identified that may jeopardize the success of the current program, chief among them the appearance of severe complications of vaccination. Our finding of a lack of a generation of knowledge on smallpox vaccination urgently calls for improved physician education and dissipation of misconceptions that are prevalent in the public today.

December 2002
JoeÈ l Zlotogora MD PhD, Yona Amitai MD, Dorit Nitzan Kaluski MD MPH RD and Alex Leventhal MD MPH MPA

Background: Open neural tube defects are among the most common malformations of the fetus. Secondary prevention by early diagnosis during pregnancy and abortion of affected fetuses result in a marked reduction of NTD incidence at birth. The dramatic effect of folic acid for primary prevention of these defects led to recommendations for folic acid supplementation in women of reproductive age.

Objective: To describe the epidemiologic features of NTD in Israel in 1999±2000.

Methods: A national registry of NTD was begun in 1999. During the years 1999±2000, a non-syndromic NTD was diagnosed in at least 394 pregnancies (166 anencephaly, 166 spina bifida, 43 encephalo-cele, and 19 with other types of NTD). The religious-ethnic affiliation was known in 392 cases (209 Jews and 183 non-Jews).

Results: Despite a marked decline in the rate of NTD at birth in the last few decades, the total rates during pregnancy did not change significantly, demonstrating that the changes were secondary to termination of affected pregnancies. At birth, NTD were almost four times more frequent among non-Jews (3.6 per 10,000 live births for anencephaly and 5.9 for spina bifida) than among Jews (anencephaly 1/10,000 live births, spina bifida 1.4/10,000 live births). The complete data of the registry showed an approximately twofold difference in the overall rates during pregnancy between Jews (anencephaly 5.3, spina bifida 4.6, total 11/10,000 live births) and non-Jews (anencephaly 8.8, spina bifida 10.3, total 22.3/10,000 live births). The registry demon-strated that the significant differences in NTD incidence observed at birth between Jews and non-Jews are secondary to a combined effect of a higher frequency of the malformations among non-Jews and a lower proportion of termination of affected pregnancies among non-Jews.

Conclusions: The data presented here will serve as a basis for evaluating the impact of the Ministry of Health recommendations for folic acid supplementation on the incidence of NTD.
 

July 2002
Michael Huerta, MD, MPH and Alex Leventhal, MD, MPH

Recent events have drawn world attention to “mythological diseases” such as anthrax, plague and smallpox, which have been out of the spotlight for some decades. Much of our current knowledge of epidemic intervention and disease prevention was acquired over history through our experience with these very diseases, such that the sudden panic over the re-emergence of these historically well-known entities is perplexing. Over time, changes in the balance of the epidemiologic triangle have driven each of these disease systems towards a new equilibrium with which we are not familiar. While the pathogens may be similar, these are not the diseases of the past. These new disease systems are insufficiently described by the classic epidemiologic triangle, which lacks a dimension necessary for providing a valid model of the real-world effects of bioterror-related disease. Interactions within the classic epidemiologic triangle are now refracted through the prism of the global environment, where they are mediated, altered, and often amplified. Bioterror-associated diseases must be analyzed through the epidemiologic pyramid. The added dimension represents the global environment, which plays an integral part in the effects of the overall disease system. The classic triangle still exists, and continues to function at the base of the new model to describe actual agent transmission, but the overall disease picture should be viewed from the height of the fourth apex of the pyramid. The epidemiologic pyramid also serves as a practical model for guiding effective interventional measures.

Paul E. Slater, MD, MPH, Emilia Anis, MD, MPH and Alex Leventhal, MD, MPH, MPA

Because of its high case-fatality rate, its very high transmission potential, and the worldwide shortage of effective vaccine, smallpox tops international lists of over a dozen possible bioterror and biologic warfare agents. In a scenario involving aerosol variola virus release, tens to hundreds of first-generation cases would ensue, as would hundreds to thousands of subsequent cases resulting from person-to-person transmission. A smallpox outbreak in Israel must not be regarded as a doomsday event: the methods of smallpox outbreak control are known and will be implemented. The rapidity with which organized outbreak control measures are competently executed will determine how many generations of cases occur before the outbreak is brought under control. Planning, vaccine stockpiling, laboratory expansion, professional training and public education, all carried out well in advance of an epidemic, will minimize the number of casualties. The reinstitution of routine smallpox vaccination in Israel, as in other countries, must be given serious consideration, since it has the potential for eliminating the threat of smallpox as a bioterror agent.

Legal Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or medical advice on any matter.
The IMA is not responsible for and expressly disclaims liability for damages of any kind arising from the use of or reliance on information contained within the site.
© All rights to information on this site are reserved and are the property of the Israeli Medical Association. Privacy policy

2 Twin Towers, 35 Jabotinsky, POB 4292, Ramat Gan 5251108 Israel