So, let's get back to discussing the intentional communities in Ramat Negev Regional Council that my group visited a few weeks ago.
Everything looks nice and we heard about the advantages and good feeling of living together by choice in a communal settlement (yishuv kehilati).
But we also noticed the lecturers kept rubbing their arms as they spoke.
And then our guide pointed out these fly traps hung all around (around the kindergarten, in this photo) and the source of the itching became clear.
Traps not just for regular pesky flies but rather for dangerous little sand flies.
Sand flies of the genus Leishmania bite and cause leishmaniasis, known colloquially as the Rose of Jericho. (Warning: that link shows ugly scars that can result from the bites.)
It has always been endemic in Jericho, but apparently in the last few years the disease has spread into Israel's Jordan Valley.
And now the sand fly has invaded certain parts of the Negev too.
Two years ago the Israel Ministry of Health designated Sanford F. Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases of the Hebrew University as Israel’s National Laboratory for Leishmaniasis.
I just hope the various government authorities get their act together and decide who should be responsible for controlling this threat in Israel.
An estimated 12 million cases of leishmaniasis are reported worldwide, with 1.5-2 million new cases a year.
No one promised the early and the current pioneers in the Negev a rose garden, but they should not have to suffer from the Rose of Jericho.
(For ABC Wednesday, U is for ugly urticarial papules.)