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El Al flight attendant who contracted measles on New York to Tel Aviv flight dies after four months in coma

Rotem Amitai, 43, a mother of three was a 'wonderful woman,' her family said.
Image: El Al airlines
An El Al plane is seen after its landing following its inaugural flight between Tel Aviv and Nice at Nice International Airport, France, on April 4, 2019.Eric Gaillard / Reuters

The El Al flight attendant who fell into a coma after contracting measles has died, Israeli media reported Tuesday.

Rotem Amitai, 43, a mother of three, passed away at the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in the city of Petah Tikva.

“Rotem was a wonderful woman and a devoted mother,” her family said in a statement. “We are grieving and hurting from her premature passing.”

Amitai was sickened when she came into contact with a passenger who had measles on a March 26 flight from New York to Tel Aviv. She was later admitted to the hospital after coming down with encephalitis or swelling of the brain.

It was later revealed that Amitai had only received one shot against measles as a toddler in the 1970s instead of the double dosage for children that the Israeli government now recommends.

"El Al bows its head in mourning following the death of one of the company's flight crew," Israel’s national airline said in a statement. "Once the case became known, the company worked to vaccinate all the company's air crews. The company will continue to act on the issue in accordance with the Ministry of Health's guidelines.”

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

Israel has experienced a measles outbreak in the last year, the paper reported. Some 4,292 cases were logged between July 2018 and July 2019, mostly among ultra-Orthodox Jews among whom inoculation rates are lower.

The United States has also seen a big jump in measles cases in 2019, with 1,182 individual cases of the disease confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 30 different states.

More than 75 percent of the cases were “linked to outbreaks in New York and New York City,” according to the CDC.

And most of those were in Orthodox Jewish enclaves in Brooklyn, where New York officials declared a public health emergency in April and were trying to counter a local anti-vaccination campaign.