At the beginning of April, I wrote about an El Al flight attendant who had contracted measles and was in a serious condition in a Tel Aviv hospital. The middle-aged female flight attendant who is said to have worked for the Israeli flag carrier for many years was taken ill during a flight between New York JFK and Tel Aviv, although she may have been infected with the measles virus days before.
The latest media reports from Israel claim the flight attendant is still in a very serious condition and has been in a coma for more than 10-days. Sources who are familiar with the matter say the 43-year old has suffered suspected brain damage as a result of contracting measles.
“The damage is very serious,” Dr Avi Lin, deputy director of Meir Hospital, told a Hebrew news site. “We continue to evaluate her situation every day and hope for the best,” he continued.
Israel’s Ministry of Health issued an alert after the incident telling anyone who was on El Al flight LY002 on the 26th March to contact a health care professional immediately if they suspect they have contracted measles or suffer from flu-like symptoms.
Measles is a highly infectious disease and while it’s very rare for anyone who’s been vaccinated against it to then get infected, anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated is at serious risk if they come into close contact with a sufferer.
Because it can take up to a week for symptoms to start showing, sufferers may unwittingly infect others.
With measles outbreaks affecting a number of cities – most notably in Jureuselum, New York and Hong Kong – a prominent flight attendant union is saying their profession is at the frontline of fighting the disease. A Cathay Pacific flight attendant and pilot have also recently been infected with measles but both are said to have made a full recovery.
Flight attendants are being urged to ensure they are fully vaccinated against measles with the MMR vaccination – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that teenagers and adults who don’t have evidence of immunity against measles should get two doses of the MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days.
Annually, around 89,780 people worldwide die from measles. So far this year there have been at least 555 cases of measles in the United States – that’s nearly 40% more cases than for the whole of 2018.
Authorities in New York City recently declared a public health emergency because of the rising number of measles cases – many cases have been attributed to the Orthodox Jewish which may also tie-in with the infection of the El Al flight attendant.
Cathay Pacific recently allowed unvaccinated flight attendants the option of wearing surgical face masks in an attempt to protect themselves from contracting measles. Authorities in a number of regions are encouraging anyone eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible.