Stream in Golan Heights reopened after test results show drop in fecal coliforms, leading to a decrease in chances of contracting the disease; Tourism Ministry launches campaign to bring Israelis back to the north.
Rotem Elizera, Ahiya Raved|Published: 08.27.18 , 14:00

The Ministry of Health announced Sunday that the Zavitan Stream in the Golan Heights has been reopened for visitors, two weeks after it was closed due to the leptospirosis scare.

The stream was reopened after several tests showed a drop in fecal coliforms, leading to a decrease in chances of contracting the disease.

According to the ministry, swimming is still prohibited in the following parks: Zaki Stream, Yehudiya, Meshushim stream, the Majrasa estuary, the Jilabun Stream, the Arik Bridge in the Jordan River, and the Abukayak site.

According to the ministry, 42 people have so far been diagnosed with leptospirosis while 462 presented symptoms of the disease.

Meanwhile, in an effort to revive tourism to the area, the Ministry of Tourism launched a campaign inviting Israelis back to the north.

Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevy visited several water sites in the Upper Galilee Sunday to meet with dozens of tourism site operators who suffered millions in losses due to the leptospirosis scare that kept thousands of tourists away from the Galilee.

The head of the Upper Galilee Regional Council, Giora Salz, and Mevo’ot Hermon Regional Council head Benny Ben Muvhar, were also present.

At the meeting, the director-general said that last weekend, more Israelis returned to sites in northern Israel, and the ministry’s goal is to have full occupancy towards the holidays.

He advised tour operates to familiarize themselves with the latest tourism world trends, invest in forward-thinking marketing, and tie the entire northern region to one product that would benefit many.

According to the Nature and Parks Authority, thousands of people arrived at sites in northern Israel last weekend, including 2,500 visitors in the Nahal Snir Nature Reserve, 3,000 visitors in Gan Hashlosha (Hashena), 1,900 visitors in Hurshat Tal, about 1,500 visitors in Ma’ayan Harod, 1,500 visitors in the Achziv National Park and 1,500 visitors in Tel Dan.

Raya Shurki, Director of the Public and Community Division at the Israel Nature and National Authority, said: “We are pleased to see the continued improvement and increase in visitors at the northern sites in recent days. At the same time, we were happy to meet with visitors who chose to celebrate Id al-Adha at the various sites, enjoying the variety of family activities available at the sites.”

Prof. Michal Hovers, who runs the infectious diseases unit in Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba, explained how Leptospirosis infects the streams and described its main symptoms.

“Animals infected the waters and streams, and people who either bathe there or come into contact with mice urine in outdoor habitats can catch this infection,” she said in an interview with Ynet.

“Symptoms can be mild in some cases but in others the infection can become severe and lead to kidney and liver failure,” she continued.

Prof. Hovers added that symptoms include fever, flu-like symptoms and sometimes corneal infections but emphasized that not all symptoms require admission to hospital.

“Mild cases can heal without intervention, and thus not everyone who bathed in the streams and who has a fever has to rush to the hospital,” she noted.

“However, if high temperatures persist and someone doesn’t feel well, it is better to go and get a blood test in order to ensure that liver and kidney functions are in order, and take antibiotics if needed,” she explained.,7340,L-5335802,00.html