Rabies in Israel


Recently, Israel is experiencing a reoccurrence of rabies cases on its territory.

On 5 November in Afula, two dogs were bitten by an infected jackal and they were put into quarantine.

On November 16 2017, a dairy cattle from the village of Yokneam tested positive for rabies.


On 28 November, another case was discovered at Kibbutz Ramat Hashofet in Ramat Menashe where a woman was bitten by a jackal and quickly rescued in a medical clinic.

Another two cases of rabies-infected jackals have been discovered in the northern region, HaZafon, on 30 November 2017. One of the infected jackals attacked cars traveling in Moshav Moledet.


During 2017, 49 events of rabies, in 42 locations in North-east Israel, have been laboratory confirmed and reported. They included 28 jackals, 10 beef cattle, 1 dairy cow, 7 dogs and one sheep.

The reoccurrence of the disease in Israel is mainly due to its proximity to countries such as Syria, where there are currently no controls on rabies due to the war.

Moreover, the explosive rabies event in jackals (Canis aureus), a protected animal species in Israel, is attributed by experts to the steadily growing density of their population and, possibly, to the adaptation of the currently circulating field strain to this species.

Recently, in Israel, there has been an increase in the number of jackals from Galilee to the Negev due to food and carcasses in landfills.

The problem is particularly acute in the Judean Hills both north and south of Jerusalem, and between Haifa and Tel Aviv, including in the Yarkon Park in the north of Tel Aviv, where farmers complain about jackals’ predations on livestock and wildlife.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority began taking steps to combat the growing of jackal population but these efforts have had little effect. Although in recent years the Israel Nature and Parks Authority has killed more than one thousand jackals annually, the results have been unsatisfactory in reducing the overall population.

According to Nature and Parks Authority, there are 12 to 24 jackals per square kilometer. Efforts to control jackal populations have been intensified in recent years, and Authority Nature and Parks has distributed doses of oral vaccines to vaccinate jackals. The 2017 campaign of baits distribution started on 1 November; experts hope that this campaign will effectively immunized young animals, which are regarded the main cause of the current events. Unfortunately, the dispersion of oral vaccine baits, an activity applied annually on both sides of the Jordan River for the immunization of wild animals, has not started yet within the territory of the Kingdom of Jordan, on the eastern side of the Jordan river. Indeed, cooperation with Jordan is a significant component in the fight against the spread of the disease.

This year (2017), this cooperation campaign has become particularly important given the spread of the disease in the areas of Beit Shean, Gilboa and the Harod Valley, which are located near the Jordanian border.


Rabies is a lethal zoonosis caused by a neurotropic virus of the genus Lyssavirus belonging to the Rhabdoviridae family that affects warm-blooded animals and humans. The rabies virus is spread through the saliva of an infected animal (e.g. bites).

The people most affected by rabid dog bites, usually live in poor rural communities where medical resources are often scarce. Because they lack a strong political voice, their problems tend to be overlooked by politicians and health authorities despite the impact of the disease is dramatic and economically significant.


The disease is present in all continents except Antarctica. In countries where the disease is endemic, measures are implemented to address and reduce the risk of infection in susceptible populations (wild animals, stray animals and pets) to create a buffer between animals and humans. Highly effective vaccines can prevent the disease. The correct execution of mass vaccination campaigns in dogs are able to help the eradication of urban rabies.

In Italy rabies has been eradicated in 2013.

© IZSAM December 2017

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