Israeli Flight Attendant In Coma After Contracting Measles: Report

A flight attendant in Israel has been in a coma for 10 days after contracting measles following a flight from New York, CNN reported Wednesday, as measles outbreaks in both countries raise public health concerns.

“She’s been in a deep coma for 10 days, and we’re now just hoping for the best,” Itamar Grotto, associate director general of the country’s Ministry of Health, told CNN. Grotto said the 43-year-old woman has encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, a severe complication of measles.

Health officials warned passengers on the attendant’s March 26 El Al airlines flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Tel Aviv to be vigilant for any symptoms of the disease, The Times of Israel reported earlier this month.

It was unclear if she contracted the virus on the flight, in New York or in Tel Aviv, officials said Wednesday, adding that they do not believe she spread the disease to passengers or other crew members aboard the plane. 

The woman was hospitalized on March 31 in Tel Aviv. She initially was treated for fever, before her condition worsened.

According to the Ministry of Health, 2 million Israelis are either unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated with one dose of the measles vaccine instead of the recommended two doses, Israeli media reported this week.

Officials believe the flight attendant may have only received one dose as a child, according to CNN.

Measles outbreaks have engulfed Israel and parts of the U.S., with health officials in both countries urging parents to vaccinate their children, particularly people in Orthodox Jewish communities, where there are low rates of vaccination.

New York City health officials last week declared a public health emergency, ordering mandatory vaccinations in parts of the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn with high Orthodox Jewish populations.

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