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עמוד בית
Wed, 24.07.24

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August 2004
I. Korn-Lubetzki and A. Brand

Background: In developed countries, the incidence of Sydenham’s chorea, a major sign of rheumatic fever has declined, but outbreaks are still encountered worldwide.

Objectives: To report the characteristics of a cohort of SC[1] patients in the Jerusalem area.

Methods: We conducted a prospective assessment of rheumatic fever and SC between 1985 and 2002. The diagnosis of rheumatic fever was based on the revised Jones criteria. Other etiologies of chorea were excluded. Recurrence was defined as the development of new signs, lasting more than 24 hours and separated by a minimum of 2 months from the previous episode. Patients were followed for 1 to 14 years following the initial SC episode, and at least one year after recurrence.

Results: Among 180 children with rheumatic fever, 24 had SC. Most of them came from large families of Ashkenazi origin. In 19 patients (79%) the chorea was associated with other rheumatic fever signs, while 5 had pure chorea. Due to the systematic use of two-dimensional color Doppler echocardiography, cardiac involvement was detected in 75% of the patients. Ten patients (42%, 7 females) developed 11 recurrent episodes of chorea 3 months to 10 years after the initial episode. At recurrence, chorea was the sole rheumatic sign in all nine patients who recurred once. None of the patients had persistent chorea.

Conclusions: SC is still prevalent in the pediatric population of Jerusalem, and may recur years later. Recognition of the disease and adequate treatment is necessary.

[1] SC = Sydenham's chorea

July 2003
November 2001
Haim Ashkenazi, MD, Bernard Rudensky, PhD, Esther Paz, MA, David Raveh, MD, Jonathan A. Balkin, MBBCh, Dan Tzivoni, MD and Amos M. Yinnon, MD

Background: Recent studies have suggested a possible association between Chlamydia pneumoniae infection and coronary heart disease.

Objectives: To determine titers of antibodies to Chlamydia pneumoniae in patients with acute  myocardial infraction compared with titers in several control groups.

Methods: This prospective case-control study investigated 209 individuals. We assessed the serum IgG antibody titers to Chlamydia pneumoniae in 57 consecutive patients admitted with AMI to our intensive coronary care unit during a 4 month period. A serum sample was drawn upon admission after 6 weeks. Results were compared with those of four control groups: a) patients admitted with community-acquired pneumonia (n=18), b) patients with community-acquired urinary tract infection (n=42), c) patients with angiographically normal coronary artery disease (n=44), and d) patients with stable coronary artery disease (n=48). Serum immunoglobin G antibody titers to C. pneumoniae were determined using standard micro-immunofluorescene technology.

Results: Of 57 patients with AMI, 32 (56%) had a high lgG titer to C. pneumoniae (>=1:256) on the initial test, which remained unchanged (62%) after 6 weeks. The percentage of patients with high titers was significantly lower in the control groups: 5 of 18 patients (28%) in the pneumonia group (P<0.01), 11 of 42 (26%) in the urinary tract infection group (P<0.01), 11 of 44 (25%) with normal coronary arteries (P<0.01), and 17 of 48 (35%) with stable chronic ischemic heart disease (P<0.05).

Conclusion: The detection of high titers of lgG antibodies to C. pneumoniae in many patients with AMI, compared to control groups, suggest that chronic Chlamydia pneumoniae infection plays a role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and acute ischemic events.

May 2001
Gabriel E. Feldman, MD, MPH

Background: Recent genetic susceptibility findings in Jews of Eastern European descent, commonly called Ashke­nazi Jews, have led to concerns that they may be stigmatized as being more cancer prone than other groups.

Objective: To examine the hypothesis that site-specific or all-cancer incidence and mortality rates are higher than expected in Ashkenazi Jews worldwide when compared with referent populations.

Methods: A MEDLINE search was performed using keywords "Jews", "cancer", "incidence" and "mortality" to identify studies directly relevant to the primary study question.

Results: Little evidence suggested that all-cancer inci­dence or mortality is higher in Ashkenazi Jews than in North American non-Hispanic whites. Ashkenazi Jewish men appear to have relatively low cancer rates, which may be due to lower tobacco use. Colorectal cancer was shown to disproportio­nately overburden Ashkenazi Jews, who may also be at increased risk for ovarian, pancreatic and stomach cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Little evidence was found support­ing an elevated risk of breast cancer in Ashkenazi Jewish women. Rates of lung, cervical, penile and prostate cancers appear low in this population. Rate disparities were generally attributed to lifestyle differences, particularly diet and tobacco use, rather than to genetic predisposition.

Conclusions: Ashkenazi Jews do not appear to have a higher total cancer burden than comparable North American populations. Any cancer rate differentials in this group are more likely to be related to lifestyle and dietary factors than to genetics. However, colorectal cancer rates in Ashkenazi Jews may be the highest of any ethnic group in the world and cancer controllers should consider this when developing future screening, diagnostic and policy strategies.

July 2000
Aziz Mazarib MD, Ely S. Simon MD, Amos D. Korczyn MD MSc, Zipora Falik-Zaccai MD,Ephraim Gazit MD and Nir Giladi MD

Objective: To report a unique hereditary, juvenile onset, craniocervical predominant, generalized dystonia and parkinsonism affecting four members of one family.

Family Description: A father and three of his four daughters presented to us over the past 30 years with a similar picture of generalized dystonia, starting in the craniocervical region in the second or third decade of life. They later developed moderate parkinsonism, mainly manifesting bradykinesia, rigidity and abnormal postural reflexes. Biochemical and genetic tests excluded Wilson's disease, Huntington's disease and Oppenheim's dystonia.

Conclusion: This is a new type of familial dystonia-parkinsonism where the craniocervical dystonic symptoms are most prominent in the early stages while parkinsonism becomes the predominant problem later in life. A search for the genetic mutation in this family is underway.

April 2000
Eytan Mor MD, Rachel Michowiz RN MA, Tamar Ashkenazi RN MSc Ethi Shabtai PhD, Richard Nakache MD, Ahmed Eid MD, Aaron Hoffman MD, Solly Mizrahi MD, Moshe Shabtai MD and Zaki Shapira MD1 for the Israel Transplant Center

Background: Over a 12 month period, the Israel Transplant Center doubled the number of donors by assigning a nurse coordinator to each of 22 hospitals around the country and by using kidneys from elderly donors.

Objective: To evaluate the impact of our "marginal donors" policy on the results immediately following transplantation.

Methods: Between October 1997 and September 1998, 140 cadaveric kidney transplantations from 72 donors were performed in Israel. We defined two groups of recipients: patients with immediate graft function and patients with either delayed graft function requiring >1 week of dialysis post-transplant or with primary graft non-function. We compared the following parameters between groups: donor and recipient age and gender, cause of donor’s death, length of stay in the intensive care unit, vasopressor dosage and creatinine levels before harvesting, cold ischemic time, and the number of recipient grafts.

Results: There were 102 recipients (72.8%) with immediate graft function and 38 with either PNF (n=13, 9.3%) or DGF (n=25, 17.9%). On regression analysis, donor age >50 year and retransplantation were significant risk factors for PNF or DGF (odds ratio 4.4 and 2.8, respectively). Of the 56 kidneys from donors >50 years old, 21 (37.5%) developed either PNF (n=9) or DGF (n=12).

Conclusions: We conclude that kidneys from donors over age 50 are at increased risk for graft non-function or delayed function. Better assessment of functional capacity of kidneys from “aged” donors may help to choose appropriate donors from that pool.


PNF = primary graft non-function

DGF = delayed graft function

March 2000
Yael Avrahami-Heller MD [DTB], Dani Cohen MD, Noam Orr MD, Raphael Slepon MD,Israel Ashkenazi MD, Yehuda L. Danon MD

Background: Chickenpox is a highly contagious childhood infection caused by varicella zoster virus, a virus of the herpes family. Although a mild and self-limiting disease in otherwise healthy children, chickenpox can be a complicated and even life-threatening disease in adults, pregnant women and immunosuppressed individuals. Among infants whose mothers had varicella during the first trimester of pregnancy, 2-3% will develop a congenital VZV syndrome that includes a combination of scarring, limb deformation, central nervous system impairment and ocular injury. In 1974, a live attenuated virus vaccine against VZV was developed in Japan and has been thoroughly tested for safety, efficacy and long-term effects. In March 1995 the vaccine was licensed in the U.S. for use in healthy children only.

Objectives: To determine the rate of immunity to VZV in young Israeli adults.

Methods: On the assumption that a randomly picked sample of 18-year-old army recruits in Israel is representative of the general Jewish population, 900 sera samples were taken for 3 years (1985,1988,1992). The sera were analyzed for IgG to VZV with a commercial ELISA kit using microwells coated with VZV antigens.

Results: A total of 98% of the samples tested positive for VZV antibodies. The difference in serologic values between the recruitment years was not statistically significant.

Conclusion: The majority of the Israeli population reaches adulthood already immunized against VZV, with immigrants having slightly lower immunity rates. Nonetheless, a few dozen cases of chickenpox are diagnosed in the IDF annually. These data should be taken into account when a vaccination program is devised. Should such a program be implemented, it would be interesting to repeat the serosurvey for comparison. A shift in the peak occurrence age might necessitate the administration of a booster vaccine at an older age.



VZV= varicella zoster virus

IDF= Israel Defense Forces

February 2000
Yehuda Nofech-Mozes MD, Yael Yuhas PhD, Elisabeth Kaminsky MSc, Abraham Weizman MD and Shai Ashkenazi MD MSc

Background: The pathogenesis of neurological symptoms, the most common extraintestinal complication ofchildhood shigellosis, is unclear. To elucidate the mechanisms involved, we developed an animal model and demonstrated that TNF alpha and IL-1 beta play a role.

Objectives: To determine whether TNF alpha and IL-1 beta genes are expressed in the brain following peripheral administration of Shigella dysenteriae 60R.

Methods: Expression of mRNA for TNF alpha and IL-1 beta was examined in the brain structures (hypothalamus and hippocampus) and peripheral organs by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, at different time points after intraperitoneal injection of S. dysenteriae sonicate.

Results: In our animal model of Shigella related seizures, TNF alpha and IL-1 beta mRNA were induced in the brain, spleen and liver already 1 hour after injection of S. dysenteriae sonicate. The expression of TNF alpha and IL-1 beta mRNA in spleen, hippocampus and hypothalamus decreased after 6 h and increased again at 18 h post-injection.

Conclusions: Local production of TNF alpha and IL-1 beta in the brain may be involved in the enhanced seizure response of mice after administration of S. dysenteriae. It is possible that intracerebral production of TNF alpha and IL-1 beta plays a role in neurological disturbances of human shigellosis.

Itamar Offer, MD, Shai Ashkenazi, MD, Gilat Livni, MD and Itamar Shalit, MD

Background: Bronchiolitis caused by respiratory syncytial virus is one of the major causes of hospitalization in young children, especially during the winter.  Recent evidence has shown that pharmacological treatment, especially nebulized epinephrine, in addition to the traditional supportive treatment, can alleviate symptoms and shorten hospitalization, but this approach is not yet widespread.

Objectives: To determine whether the management of bronchiolitis in Israel is moving toward a stronger emphasis on pharmacological care.

Methods: A questionnaire on the diagnosis and management of bronchiolitis was completed by 27 heads of pediatric departments throughout Israel.  The questionnaire dealt with the frequency of usage of diagnostic and selected therapeutic procedures.

Results: Chest X-ray and arterial blood gases are commonly used as a diagnostic aid in more than 75% of the departments, and antibiotics are prescribed routinely in 24%.  Corticosteroids are still in use: 48% use systemic steroids, and 19% nebulized steroids.  Nebulized epinephrine is used in 22% of the departments, while nebulized beta-agonists are used frequently in two-thirds of the departments.

Conclusions: Despite convincing data that beta-agonists and steroids have no positive effect on the outcome of bronchiolitis on the one hand, and that nebulized epinephrine has advantages in children on the other, we found significant use of the former two agents and sparse use of the latter.  Greater awareness is needed among pediatricians, and measures should be introduced to incorporate the new recommendations, with further study of the effect of the old and new drugs on bronchiolitis.


Yael Levy MD, Shai Ashkenazi MD, Sivan Lieberman MD and Yehuda L. Danon MD

Background: According to studies from different countries, the prevalence of natural rubber latex sensitization in healthcare workers ranges from 2.9 to 17%.

Objective: To estimate the prevalence of NRL-specific IgE antibodies in healthcare workers in Israel.

Methods: Three hundred healthcare workers, mostly from a major pediatric tertiary care facility, and 15 non-healthcare workers completed a questionnaire on signs and symptoms of NRL allergy and other respiratory and food allergies. NRL-specific IgE antibodies were assayed with the DPC AlaSTAT-ELISA method.

Results: Seventy of the 300 workers (23.3%) reported symptoms of NRL allergy: hand eczema and pruritus in 63, upper respiratory tract and ocular symptoms in 10, shortness of breath in 2, and generalized rash in 6. None had anaphylaxis due to latex exposure. There was a significant correlation of symptoms of NRL allergy with atopy and job category (nurses, laboratory technicians, nurse assistants and dental medicine workers), but not with gender, age, or years of employment. The in vitro tests for specific IgE antibodies against NRL were positive (≥0.70 IU/ml) in five workers (1.66%).

Conclusions: This is the first study of the prevalence of NRL-specific IgE antibodies in healthcare workers in Israel. Our 1.66% sensitization rate is much lower than that reported for healthcare workers in other countries. This difference may be due to our inclusion of a study population with a relatively low exposure to latex gloves (pediatricians compared to surgeons). Further studies are needed in this and other high risk populations in Israel.  



NRL = natural rubber latex

Ravit Arav-Boger MD, Shai Ashkenazi MD, Michael Gdalevich MD, Dani Cohen PhD and Yehuda L. Danon MD

Background: There is an increasing number of reports of pertussis among older children and adults. The development and licensure of an acellular pertussis vaccine offer the possibility of adult vaccination against the disease. Information on immunity to pertussis in this age group is needed before any vaccination policy can be considered.

Objectives: To study the seroepidemiology of pertussis antibodies in a random sample of adolescents.

Methods: Serum IgG antibodies to whole-cell lysate of Bordetella pertussis were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in sera of 533 Israeli military recruits aged 17–18 years. Epidemiologic variables were collected by a questionnaire and analyzed for correlation with pertussis antibodies.  

Results: Of the sera tested 58.6% were positive for pertussis IgG antibodies, while 35.4% were negative and 6% were borderline. The seropositivity rate was significantly higher among females and non-smokers than among males and smokers. Serum samples of subjects found negative to Bordetella pertussis on recruitment were tested again, using the same ELISA assay, 2–3 years later.  Seroconversion during the 3 year military service was detected in 12.5% of 40 subjects. Using the pertussis toxin as the antigen in a subsample of 160 sera, the seroprevalence was lower than that detected by the whole-cell lysate on the same sera (45% vs. 58%).

Conclusions: A significant part of the adolescent population in Israel has low titer of serum IgG antibodies to the multiple antigens of B. pertussis. The relatively low concentration of anti-pertussis antibodies, together with the serological evidence of exposure to the disease indicates that booster immunization with the acellular pertussis vaccine of military recruits should be considered after more information on the incidence of clinical cases of pertussis will be available.



ELISA = enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay

September 1999
Michael Gdalevich, MD, Daniel Mimouni, MD, Isaac Ashkenazi, MD, and Joshua Shemer ,MD.
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