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עמוד בית
Fri, 14.06.24

January 2002

Manfred S. Green MD PhD, Tiberio Swartz MD MPH, Elana Mayshar JD, Boaz Lev MD, Alex Leventhal MD MPH, Paul E. Slater MD MPH and Joshua Shemer MD

Background: The large number of cases of West Nile fever diagnosed in Israel in 2000 once again brought into focus the confusion that frequently accompanies the use of the term “epidemic”.

Objective: To examine the different definitions of the term “epidemic” and to propose ways in which it can be used to both improve communication among professionals and provide the public with a better sense of the associated risks.

Methods: The literature wes reviewed for the various definitions of the terms “epidemic” and “outbreak”. Sources included popular and medical dictionaries, ancient documents, epidemiology texts, legal texts, and the medical literature.

Result: The term epidemic is variously defined. The broad definition given by epidemiologists - namely, more disease the is anticipated by previous experience - is less meaningful to the general public. In some ways it conflicts with the definitions found in the popular literature, which generally imply danger to the public and a very large number of victims.

Conclusions: The interpretation of the term epidemic may vary according to the context in which it is used. For risk communication, we suggest that every effort be made to add descriptive terms that characterize the epidemic.

Original Articles
Suzan Abedat MSc, Simcha Urieli-Shoval PhD, Eli Shapira PhD, Sima Calko, Eldad Ben-Chetrit MD and Yaacov Matzner MD

Background: Familial Mediterranean fever is an autosomal recessive disease characterized by sporadic attacks of inflammation affecting the serosal spaces. The gene associated with FMF[1] (MEFV), mainly expressed in neutrophils, was recently found to be expressed also in primary cultures of serosal origin (peritoneal and synovial fibroblasts). A C5a inhibitor, previously detected in normal serosal fluids, was recently identified in serosal cultures as well, and was found to be deficient in serosal fluids and cultures obtained from FMF patients.

Objective: To investigate the effect of colchicine (the main therapeutic agent for FMF patients) and certain inflammatory cytokines (IL-1b, TNF-a, IFN-a, IFN-g) on MEFV expression and C5a inhibitor activity in neutrophils and primary peritoneal fibroblast cultures.

Methods: Human primary peritoneal fibroblast cultures and neutrophils were studied for MEFV expression and C5a inhibitor activity, using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and C5a-induced myeloperoxidase assay, respectively, in the presence and absence of colchicine and cytokines.

Results: MEFV expression in neutrophils was high and could not be induced further. Its expression in the peritoneal fibroblasts was lower than in neutrophils and could be induced using colchicine and cytokines parallel with induction of C5a inhibitor activity. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR[2] assays enabled estimation of MEFV induction by the cytokines at 10–100-fold and could not be further increased by concomitant addition of colchicine.

Conclusion: Serosal tissues, which are afflicted in FMF, express colchicine and cytokine-inducible MEFV and contain inducible C5a inhibitor activity. The relation between colchicine ability to induce MEFV and C5a inhibitor activity, and its efficacy in FMF treatment, require further investigation.


[1] RT-PCR = reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction

[2] FMF = familial Mediterranean fever

Haim Bibi MD, Daniel Weiler-Ravell MD, David Shoseyov MD, Ilana Feigin MD, Yael Arbelli RN and Daniel Chemtob MD MPH DEA

Background: One of the measures adopted in Israel since 1959 as part of the tuberculosis control program was screening children aged 12–13 years old. The screening comprised single-step tuberculin skin testing using the Mantoux method.

Objective: To assess the efficacy of tuberculin skin screening for TB[1] in schoolchildren in southwestern Israel as well as the compliance to treatment for latent tuberculosis infection.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the records of children in the Ashkelon region who underwent a tuberculin skin test during the period 1995–99.

Results: Of the 28,016 eligible children, 27,232 were tested. In 923 children, mostly from the former USSR and Ethiopia, an induration of 10 mm or more was found. Only 52 Israeli-born children tested positive. Tuberculosis was found in seven children with a positive test, five of whom were from Ethiopia. All children who tested positive were referred to the local TB clinic; only 266 children (28.8%) presented. Only 151 completed the recommended treatment of isoniazid for 6 months. Thus, although screening included most of the targeted children aged 13, only a third of them presented to a TB clinic, of whom only about half completed treatment of latent infection.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that the current policy of screening for latent TB in our region is ineffective in terms of implementation of the recommended treatment. We suggest that only high risk groups be screened, and that a concerted effort be made to implement treatment.


[1] TB = tuberculosis

Sydney Benchetrit MD, Jacques Bernheim MD and Eduardo Podjarny MD

Background: Primary aldosteronism is a common cause of non-renal secondary hypertension. A correct diagnosis results in curing the hypertension or targeting appropriate pharmacotherapy. In patients with low renin resistant hypertension (after treatment with three or more different anti-hypertensive drugs the blood pressure remains above 140/90 mmHg), screening for aldosteronism is mandatory.

Objectives: To demonstrate that normal blood levels of potassium in resistant hypertensive patients do not exclude the possible presence of hyperaldosteronism, and to suggest the use of the plasma aldosterone concentration (ng/dl)/plasma renin activity (ng/ml/hour) ratio in screening for hyperaldosteronism.

Methods: Blood tests, suppression and stimulation tests (2 L normal saline IV/4 hours and 20 mg furosemide IV for 60 minutes in a standing position) were systematically performed in 20 low renin normokalemic resistant hypertensive patients. None had renal disorders, known endocrine abnormalities or heart failure. They did not receive anti-hypertensive drugs affecting PAC[1] or PRA[2]. Basal PRA and PAC were measured twice: PAC after saline infusion and PAC/PRA after stimulation.

Results:. PAC/PRA above 50 was used to denote hyperaldosteronism. Serum K was 4 ± 0.07 mM/L, PAC 22.8 ± 1.8 ng/dl, PRA 0.13 ± 0.02 ng/ml/hour, PAC/PRA 190 ± 22 (above 100 in 17). After suppression PAC decreased from 25 ± 1.8 to 11 ± 1 ng/dl (normal <5 ng/dl). Stimulation did not affect PRA and PAC/PRA. Abdominal computed tomography scan revealed normal adrenal glands in 15 patients. Spironolactone (116 ± 60 mg/day) normalized blood pressure in all patients; it was used as a single therapy in 8, and in association with only one anti-hypertensive drug in the remaining 12 patients. In one patient the treatment was discontinued due to the presence of hyperkalemia.

Conclusions: Low renin resistant hypertension associated with normokalemia may be due to hyperaldosteronism. Normal aldosterone levels in the basal condition do not exclude the possibility of hyperaldosteronism. Using a PAC/PRA ratio above 50 as a screening test can aid the physician in deciding when to perform dynamic tests, thus increasing the sensitivity of the diagnosis of hyperaldosteronism. CT scan is frequently normal. Targeted pharmacotherapy leads to a normalization of blood values.

[1] PAC = plasma aldosterone concentration

 PRA = plasma renin activity

Rasmi Magadle MD, Paltiel Weiner MD, Marinella Rabner MD, Miri Mizrahi-Reuveni MD and Avi Davidovich MD

Background: The association between coronary and/or other arterial aneurysms and polycystic kidney disease is well known. While myocardial infarction is a possible complication of atheroscletotic coronary aneurysms, it is reasonable to assume that CA[1] in patients with PKD[2] may make them prone them for a similar complication.

Objective: To evaluate the possible occurrence of CA and MI[3] in first relatives of a patient with PKD, CA and MI.

Patients: We studied 12 family members: 2 parents, 8 sisters and 2 brothers of a young woman who was incidentally diagnosed as having a MI, while her mother was known to have PKD. We used electrocardiogram, thallium-image test, and transthoracic echocardiography to determine MI, ultrasonography of the kidney to determine PKD, and coronary angiography and ventriculography to determine CA and MI, respectively. 

Results: PKD was detected in seven family members, while CA and MI were found in five and three of them, respectively.

Conclusions: In a family with PKD we detected a high prevalence of CA, with MI as a complication of the latter.


[1] CA = coronary aneurysms

[2] PKD = polcystic kidney disease

[3] MI = myocardial infarction

Haim Shirin MD, Yaron Davidovitz MD, Yona Avni MD, Paulina Petchenko MD, Zipora Krepel MSc, Rafael Bruck MD and Dina Meytes MD

Background: Epidemiological studies in different parts of the world have revealed controversial results on the association between hepatitis C virus infection and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This discrepancy suggests that HCV[1] lymphotropism or its effect on host lymphocytes may be influenced by regional and racial factors, as well as by genomic variations.

Objective: To determine the prevalence of HCV infection in patients with lymphoproliferative disorders diagnosed and treated in our institute in Israel.

Methods: A total of 212 consecutive patients (95 males and 117 females) treated in our hematology outpatient clinic between August 1997 and September 1999 was screened for anti-HCV antibodies and hepatitis B surface antigen. HCV infection was confirmed by the presence of HCV RNA in the serum. The prevalence of HCV in patients with lymphoproliferative disorders was compared to a control group of patients with myeloproliferative disorders and myelodysplastic syndromes.

Results: HCV infection was more prevalent in the group of LPD[2] patients than in the control group, but this finding was not statistically significant. The prevalence of HCV among LPD patients was 7.8%, while that in the group with myeloproliferative and myelodysplastic disorders was 1.19% and in the general population 0.64%. Among the different classes of LPD, a significant association with HCV infection was established only in patients with diffuse large B cell lymphoma. Furthermore, HCV infection was significantly more prevalent than HBV infection in the LPD group, but not in the myeloproliferative and myelodysplastic disorders group.

Conclusions: Our finding of a significant association between HCV infection and diffuse large B cell lymphoma leads us to suggest that anti-HCV antibodies be performed routinely in such subjects.  


 [1]LPD = lymphoproliferative disorders

[2] HCV = hepatitis C virus

Bianca Raikhlin-Eisenkraft PhD and Yedidia Bentur MD

Background: Ciguatera poisoning is the commonest fish-borne seafood intoxication. It is endemic to warm water tropical areas and is caused by consumption of bottom-dwelling shore reef fish, mostly during spring and summer. The causative agent, ciguatoxin, is a heat-stable ester complex that becomes concentrated in fish feeding on toxic dinoflagellates. The common clinical manifestations are a combination of gastrointestinal and neurologic symptoms. Severe poisoning may be associated with seizures and respiratory paralysis.

Objective: To describe a series of patients who sustained ciguatera poisoning from an uncommon region and an unexpected source.

Patients: Two families complained of a sensation of “electrical currents,” tremors, muscle cramps, nightmares, hallucinations, agitation, anxiety and nausea of varying severity several hours after consuming rabbitfish (“aras”). These symptoms lasted between 12 and 30 hours and resolved completely. The temporal relationship to a summer fish meal, the typical clinical manifestations along with the known feeding pattern of the rabbitfish suggested ciguatera poisoning.

Conclusions: The Eastern Mediterranean basin is an unusual region and the rabbitfish an unusual source for ciguatera poisoning. There are no readily available and reliable means for detecting ciguatoxin in humans. A high index of suspicion is needed for diagnosis and a thorough differential diagnosis is essential to eliminate other poisonings, decompression sickness and encephalitis. Supportive therapy is the mainstay of treatment.

David Ergas, MD, Eran Eilat, MD, PhD, Shlomo Mendlovic, MD, PhD and Zeev M. Sthoeger, MD
Philip J. Hashkes, MD, MSc, Orit Friedland, MD and Yosef Uziel, MD, MSc
Kosta Y. Mumcuoglu, PhD, Avi Keysary, PhD and Leon Gilead, MD
Immunology Series
Alain Fischer, MD, Salima Hacein-Bey, MD, Franeoise Le Deist, MD, Geneviove De Saint Basile, MD and Marina Cavazzana-Calvo
Case Communications
Ronen Rubinshtein, MD, Eran Bar-Meir, MD, Ahuva Grubstein, MD and Haim Bitterman, MD
Nirit Lev, MD, Shalom Michowiz, MD, Edna Inbar, MD, Claire I. Coire, MD, Silvio Pitlik, MD and Eldad Melamed, MD
Biomed Bytes
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