JERUSALEM (Sep. 3)
The director of Israel’s public health services. Dr. David Berachott, explained today to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that there are cogent medical reasons why the government has not ordered mass innovations in view of the rising incidence of cholera cases in the country. He said the government’s policy has been endorsed by the World Health Organization in Geneva with which Israel is in constant communication on the subject. Meanwhile, two new cholera cases were diagnosed today bringing the total to 42. The latest victims were a Jewish boy from Jerusalem and an Arab woman from a nearby refugee camp. There have been some questions raised as to why there have been no mass inoculations, particularly of Israel’s 800,000 grade school and high school students who returned to classes yesterday. One Knesset member has accused the Health Ministry of being remiss. Dr. Berachott said mass inoculations would be administered only if an epidemic threatened. Israeli health authorities are convinced this cannot happen because of the country’s very high standards of hygiene, the doctor said. He explained that cholera is communicable only through the intake of water or food polluted by contact with the excrement of cholera patients.
Furthermore, according to Dr. Berachott. modern medical treatment invariably effects a complete cure if begun at an early stage of the disease. He said Israel’s one cholera fatality so far, a seven-year-old Arab girl was already in her death throes when she was brought to a hospital for treatment. Dr. Berachott said that inoculations are only 50 percent effective as a preventive and retain their effects for only a few months. He said a person who is inoculated can still be a carrier of the disease without developing symptoms and in that respect mass inoculations would make it almost impossible for health authorities to trace the source of the disease and eliminate it. Itzhak Raphael, leader of the Mizrachi (Orthodox) faction in the Knesset has been critical of the government’s handling of the matter. He has collected 22 signatures from Knesset members calling for a special session of parliament to discuss the cholera outbreak. Thirty signatures are needed. The Health Ministry has launched a nationwide sanitation campaign. School kitchens have been disinfected and the Ministry issues daily hygiene bulletins.