Israeli flight attendant who contracted measles on New York flight dies

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The El Al flight attendant who contracted measles on a flight from New York has died after spending four months in a coma, Israeli officials and local reports said Wednesday.

Rotem Amitai, 43, died Tuesday at the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in the city of Petah Tikva near Tel Aviv, a hospital spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse.

“Rotem was a wonderful woman and a devoted mother,” her family said in a statement to Israeli news site Ynetnews. “We are grieving her premature departure.”

Amitai, a mother of three, contracted measles on a March 26 flight from John F. Kennedy Airport to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport.

She was hospitalized a couple of days later when she began developing symptoms associated with the virus, including a high fever and rash.

Her condition deteriorated later that month, and she fell into a coma after suffering brain damage.

The Israeli health ministry said her case was complicated by encephalitis, or swelling of the brain.

“The immediate cause of death was not defined as measles,” it said in a statement. “However, the disability (caused by) the disease was a secondary cause.”

The flight attendant had been vaccinated against measles once in 1970, instead of getting the recommended double dosage for her age group.

She is the third person to die of measles in Israel in the past 15 years, the Times of Israel reported.

The airline urged all of their flight attendants to immediately get vaccinated, after Amitai contracted the disease.

“El Al bows its head in grief in light of the death of one of our aircrew members,” the airline said in a statement.

Measles cases in both New York and Israel have skyrocketed over the past year.

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