A two-year-old girl and her four-year-old sister died and five other family members were hospitalized after apparently being poisoned by pesticides in their Jerusalem home Wednesday.
The girls were rushed to Shaare Zedek Medical Center along with the rest of their family but doctors were unable to save their lives.
Two of their brothers, 5 and 7, were reported to be in a critical condition, while the parents, in their thirties, and one other brother were in light to moderate condition. The two boys in critical condition were to be transferred to Schneider Medical Center in Petah Tikva to receive specialist treatment.
Dr. Ofir Marin, head of the trauma ward at Shaare Zedek, said the two boys’ conditions were rapidly deteriorating, and that the poison had no antidote.
“It’s a tough poison that harms all of the systems, and we are fighting for their lives,” Marin was quoted by Ynet saying. “We received information from the poison center in Haifa that there’s no drug that can combat this toxin, which harms every organ in the body.”
The poisoning was thought to have come from a pesticide used by an exterminator, who visited the home the previous day. Police arrested the exterminator and were questioning him. Ynet reported that an initial investigation found a pesticide container that was left behind in the apartment.
Paramedics who arrived at the scene described how they found the children scattered throughout the apartment in various states of consciousness and tried to administer first aid before taking them to hospital.
Two of the paramedics who treated the family were hospitalized later on Wednesday at Shaare Zedek as well after they both said they felt sick, Walla reported. The report did not specify the paramedics’ condition.
According to Israel Radio, the apartment, on Shahal Street in the Givat Mordechai neighborhood of the capital, had been fumigated on Tuesday. The exterminator who carried out the work left after giving safety instructions to the parents.
The report said that some of the children had already begun to feel ill later that evening.
According to Ynet, the parents had taken their children to a clinic the day before the incident and told medical personnel that the family suffered from indigestion after eating rotten eggs and cheese.
“Nobody suspected that it was poisoning,” a family friend who spoke with the father told Ynet.
The family was released home after undergoing a series of tests.
Following the deaths of the children, the clinic issued a statement expressing regret over the loss of life, but claimed no symptoms of poisoning were discovered in the tests.
“The tests did not uncover any suspicious finds,” the statement read.
“After receiving the results of the tests and providing treatment for nausea, [the clinic] released the family home.”
The clinic said it had launched an investigation of the incident.