The Jerusalem Post is reporting that an El Al flight attendant who contracted measles on a flight from New York JFK to Tel Aviv in March has lost her battle with the illness and died on Tuesday morning. The 43-year old veteran flight attendant became unwell on the 10-hour flight from New York and was rushed to hospital on arrival to Israel.
The country’s Ministry of Health issued an alert shortly after the flight attendant was admitted to hospital and called on passengers who were onboard El Al flight LY002 on the 26th March to contact their physcian should they show any signs or symptoms of measles.
The flight attendant, who is said to have been immunised against measles, fell into a coma shortly after falling ill and doctors feared she had suffered brain damage. No further details were immediately available and El Al has not yet publicly commented on the flight attendant’s death.
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.
Aviation unions have urged flight attendants to ensure they are fully vaccinated against measles with the MMR vaccination. In the last six months, a Cathay Pacific flight attendant and pilot have also contracted measles but both are said to have fully recovered after quick intervention.
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. There have been several prominent measles outbreaks so far this year in cities around the world – most notably in Jureuselum, New York and Hong Kong.
The signs and symptoms of measles include a high fever, a runny nose, cough and sensitivity to light. After around four days, a dark red rash may also appear – initially on the neck area although this will quickly spread.