Medical problems in Ethiopian refugees airlifted to Israel: Experience in 131 patients admitted to a general hospital

C. Hershko, G. Nesher, A. M. Yinnon, G. Zandman-Goddard, M. Klutstein, A. Abrahamov, I. Alon, B. Rudensky, M. Isacsohn

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7 Scopus citations


Within a 2 month period 131 Ethiopian immigrants were admitted for treatment at a general hospital in Jerusalem. There were 52 patients with malaria, 13 with typhoid fever, 24 with pneumonia, seven with tuberculosis, nine with shigella and 11 with campylobacter. Over three-quarters of these patients were anaemic. In the majority of cases anaemia was normocytic and was most probably secondary to malaria and other intercurrent infections. The prevalence of diffuse non-toxic goitre was 7% in children and 19% in adults with a male to female ratio of 4:13. A positive rapid plasma reagin (RPR) test was found in 4% of sera tested and a positive HBsAg in 13%. IgG antibodies to HBc antigen were found in 75% of subjects. All patients with infectious diseases responded to therapy and, despite their poor condition at arrival, there were no fatalities and no late sequelae. The high HBsAg carrier state calls attention to the risk of vertical transmission by infected mothers and underlines the need for active immunization of infants at risk. The high prevalence of untreated tuberculosis and malaria poses a potential public health hazard, but with the current systematic screening of this population leading to identification and effective treatment of affected subjects, chances for the practical eradication of malaria and tuberculosis are excellent. Finally, the large scale transfer of a population from rural Africa to a modern and largely urban society presents a unique opportunity for a prospective study of the impact of environment on the emergence of diseases which plague modern society such as diabetes, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, hypertension and cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-112
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1986


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