A flight attendant has died months after Israeli health officials said she contracted measles in New York, Israel or a flight between the two locations.
The Times of Israel reports that 43-year-old El Al Airlines flight attendant Rotem Amitai had worked a flight from New York City’s JFK Airport to Tel Aviv just days before she was hospitalized for measles. Her condition worsened over time and she developed encephalitis, or brain inflammation, according to CNN.
“Rotem was a wonderful person and a dedicated mother,” her family said in a statement provided to the Times of Israel.
Amitai reportedly had been vaccinated against measles as a child but only received one dose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has since 1989 recommended that all children get two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, since doing so provides 97% effective protection against the measles virus. One dose of the MMR vaccine is 93% effective against measles, according to the CDC.
Amitai’s case, the third measles-related death among Israeli citizens this year, illustrates the possible severity of the measles virus. Although it typically results in relatively minor symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose and rash, the contagious virus can lead to life-threatening complications such as encephalitis. In 2017 alone, 110,000 people died from measles, the World Health Organization estimates. More than 364,000 measles cases have been reported by the WHO this year. Amitai’s is the third death
No one in the U.S. has died from measles since 2015, but outbreaks across the country have raised alarm among health officials. With almost 1,200 cases of measles confirmed so far this year, the U.S. has seen its highest number of diagnoses in 25 years.