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Flight Attendant Dies Amid Global Measles Outbreaks

Flight Attendant Dies Amid Global Measles Outbreaks
Meg Butler

During the past few months, multiple reports of measles outbreaks on planes, in airports and at vacation destinations have made their rounds in what the World Health Organization is calling global outbreaks. Now, in a tragic turn, an El Al flight attendant has died from a case of measles that she contracted on a flight.

Rotem Amitai, 43, was on board El AL flight 002 from John F. Kennedy Airport to Tel Aviv on March 26 when she fell ill. As her case progressed, she was moved to an isolated intensive care unit at Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba where she slipped into a coma, suffered extensive brain damage and then succumbed to the virus.

It is not definitively clear where she contracted the measles. However, Itamar Grotto, the associate director general of the Israeli Ministry of Health has speculated that Amitai may have caught it in New York, Israel or on a flight between the two destinations.

The Ministry of Health reports that measles in Israel is “making a resurgence” primarily due to parents not inoculating their children. New York City is also experiencing its worst measles outbreak in at least two decades, reports the New York Times. At least one flight from JFK was quarantined around the time Amitai fell ill. A total of 81 U.S. flights were investigated in 2018 for carrying at least one person contagious with the disease, a record number of outbreaks for the year.

Unfortunately, Amitai had only received one vaccination shot against the virus instead of the two shots recommended for her age group. Amitai is Israel’s third measles-related death in the past few months, after 15 years without a confirmed case. El Al has since instructed all of their flight attendants to be properly inoculated against the virus.

It’s probably best that we all make sure that we’re properly vaccinated too.


[Source: Flickr/JerandSar Gimbel]


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