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Health officials in Israel have warned that Israeli soldiers injured in the assault on Gaza suffer from drug-resistant germs.

Israel's Society for Infectious Diseases (ID) said several drug-resistant pathogens have been found, particularly in limb infections, including highly resistant bacterial strains of Klebsiella, Escherichia coli and Aspergillus.

The association's president, Professor Galya Rahav, said: "It is reported in all hospitals that soldiers have returned from the battlefield with a resistant infection.

"A large part of the infections diagnosed among wounded soldiers are also occasionally detected in Israel, but they are found in people who have been exposed to these bacteria, not before."

Soil and clay contact

"Contact with soil and mud there causes exposure to these resistant bacteria, as well as mold," she said.

The appearance of these infections also affects the treatment of soldiers, as surgical intervention such as endoscopy is sometimes required to remove the affected tissue, according to Yedioth Ahronoth.

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and then become unresponsive to medications, making infections more difficult to treat and increasing the risk of disease, severe illness and mortality.

Since early November, the World Health Organization has warned of an increased risk of disease outbreaks in Gaza, as healthcare services and water and sanitation systems disintegrate.

Intensified attack on hospitals in Gaza

Hospitals in Gaza are under intense attack, with only 11 of Gaza's 36 hospitals remaining partially operational. At least 300 healthcare workers have been killed in Gaza since the start of the Israeli offensive, more than the total number of healthcare workers killed in all conflict countries in any year since 2016, according to Medical Aid for Palestinians.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote last month in a post on the X website, "Due to living conditions and lack of health care, more people could die from diseases than bombings."

Earlier this month, there were reports of dysentery among Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip, with an increase in cases of diarrhoea and intestinal diseases requiring evacuation for medical treatment.

The outbreak is believed to be caused by the pathogen Shigella, while inadequate sanitation and poor storage of food, which the Israelis have donated to their army since the beginning of the fighting in the Gaza Strip, have been suggested as a source of infection, according to the Telegraph.

Conflict Zones

This is not the first time resistant bacteria have formed in conflict zones, where dilapidated healthcare infrastructure and unfettered use of antibiotics push resistant bacteria beyond direct battlefields.

A previous example is Acinetobacter baumannii, which wounded soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan transferred to U.S. hospitals.

Known as one of the six deadliest drug-resistant pathogens, the bacteria infect wounds and spread through the bloodstream, can cause sepsis and limb loss, and can be deadly.

Source : Al Jazeera + Agencies