JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel has confirmed two cases of swine flu.
Following Tuesday morning’s confirmation of the virus, the Health Ministry raised its level of alert to 4 on a scale of 6.
One of the men, aged 26, has been quarantined in a Netanya hospital since Sunday after he exhibited signs of the flu following a trip to Mexico. The second, 47, who recently returned from a trip to Mexico, checked himself into Kfar Saba’s Meir Hospital Monday. The second case was confirmed late Tuesday afternoon.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry offered guidelines to Israelis visiting Mexico or planning a visit there in order to reduce the risk of infection with the potentially deadly virus.
No Israeli travel advisory has been issued, but the Health Ministry has endorsed the recommendation of the European Commission to postpone unnecessary travel to Mexico and to be alert regarding the virus in other countries. The ministry also urges travelers to get medical attention if they develop flu-like symptoms within a week of their trip’s end.
More than 150 people in Mexico have died apparently from the flu and another 2,000 are hospitalized with symptoms. The infection has spread to the United States, including California, Texas, Ohio, Kansas and New York, according to reports, and cases have been confirmed in Canada, New Zealand and Spain.
Magen David Adom announced Sunday that it would not take blood from potential donors who had visited Mexico, California or Texas in the past week.
The Israeli Embassy in Mexico canceled its annual Independence Day reception following a Mexican government request to avoid public gatherings to halt the spread of the virus.
The World Health Organization has called the virus a public health emergency of "pandemic potential."
Meanwhile, Israel’s Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman, a fervently Orthodox Jew, during a news conference Monday to update the public on developments regarding the virus in Israel, said that Israel will use the term "Mexican flu" rather than "swine flu" to refer to the virus. Swine, or pigs, are not kosher.