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August 23, 2019

Israeli flight attendant dies of measles, 3rd fatality from virus there in 15 years

August 14, 2019

The flight attendant worked for El Al. (Art Konovalov/Getty Images)

Global measles cases are skyrocketing, according to the World Health Organization, a statistic punctuated by the death of an El Al Airlines flight attendant of complications associated with the disease.

A 43-year-old Israeli mother of three succumbed to complications of measles she contracted while working a March 26 flight from JFK to Tel Aviv, reported The Times of Israel on Tuesday.

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Rotem Amitai died of meningoencephalitis, a complication involving inflammation or infection of both the brain and its lining, the newspaper said.

While Amitai had been vaccinated, she had received just one of the two vaccines she should have for her age group, The Washington Post reported.

Her death comes amid a worldwide spate of measles outbreaks, the World Health Organization said Monday.

Measles cases are the highest they’ve been since 2006, WHO said, noting that three times as many cases have been reported this year as there were in the same time period last year.

“This follows successive yearly increases since 2016, indicating a concerning and continuing upsurge in the overall measles burden worldwide,” WHO said in a statement.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 10 new cases in the past week, making the 2019 total 1,182, reported the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. This positions 2019 as a record-setting year for measles cases, the center said.

“This is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1992 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000,” the CDC said in its latest weekly report.

Among U.S. cases, more than 75% come from large outbreaks in New York State and New York City, the CDC said. Mayor de Blasio has declared a public health emergency over the refusal of some communities to get vaccinated due to religious beliefs.

In all, 30 states have recorded measles outbreaks to date, the CDC said.

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