Israel under threat of biological warfare - The reactions of our patients during the 1998 Persian Gulf crisis

Simon Zalewski, Shlomo Vinker, Shlomo Monnickendam, Orli Cohen, Miriam Disegni, Eliezer Kitai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background and Objectives: During February 1998, there was heightened tension in the Persian Gulf area. lraq's ruler, Saddam Hussein, threatened Israeli citizens with the use of biological weapons. This study observed the use of health care services by patients visiting our clinics during this period. Methods: During the period of February 17, 1998, through March 1, 1998, 12 family physicians classified all clinic visits as 'related' or 'unrelated' to the crisis. The participating clinics were situated in (A) high-risk and (B) low-risk areas, according to their location as related to missile hits during the 1991 Gulf War. Results: A total of 1,841 visits were recorded during the crisis period (February 17-23). There were 934 visits in Area A and 907 in Area B. Overall, 194 visits related to the crisis were recorded, of which 155 were in Area A. The rate of crisis-related visits was higher in Area A (16.6% versus 3.4%). There were more visits for authorizations for special masks (8.2% versus .8%), requests for information (3.9% versus 1.3%), and tranquilizers (2.1% versus .5%). In the period subsequent to the agreement reached on February 24, crisis-related visits declined sharply in both areas. Conclusions: During the crisis, there was an increase in visits related to the threat of biological warfare. The phenomenon was more pronounced in areas that had sustained missile hits during the 1991 Gulf War.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-345
Number of pages4
JournalFamily Medicine
Volume32
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2000

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