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A flight attendant has died after contracting measles on a flight out of New York City, according to reports

INSIDER logoINSIDER 5 days ago Talia Lakritz
a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway © Amir Cohen/Reuters

An El Al Airlines flight attendant who contracted measles after a person with the disease boarded a flight to Israel has died, according to Israel National News.

Israel's Ministry of Health confirmed that a person infected with measles was onboard El Al Airlines flight 002 from New York City's John F. Kennedy Airport to Tel Aviv on March 26.

Ministry officials cautioned all passengers and crew who were on the flight to notify doctors about their exposure to measles - especially if they developed a fever.

"The Ministry of Health emphasizes that even if you only suspect you developed symptoms of illness and you were aboard this specific flight, you need to immediately contact your general practitioner - preferably call your GP over the phone, and you need to minimize staying in public spaces (e.g. schools, buses, shopping malls, etc.)," the Ministry of Health said in a press release.

On April 4, INSIDER reported that a 43-year-old female flight attendant was hospitalized with measles. A few weeks later, she reportedly fell into a coma. Israel National News reported that she was then transferred to the quarantine section of Meir Medical Center's intensive care wing in Kfar Saba, Israel, and pronounced dead on Tuesday.

Video: What Is Measles? (Newsweek)

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Measles is caused by a virus and spreads through the air after an infected person coughs or sneezes. It's so contagious that 90% of non-immune individuals who get close to an infected person are also likely to become infected, according to the CDC. Symptoms usually begin with a fever, cough, and rash. In one or two of every 1,000 cases in children, complications such as pneumonia or brain swelling can be fatal.

The MMR vaccine can prevent measles, but an increasing number of people have chosen not to vaccinate their children, resulting in a 30% increase of measles cases around the world in 2018, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The El Al flight attendant reportedly received the measles vaccine as a child, but was given just one dose. A single dose of measles vaccine is 93% effective, while two doses are 97% effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

There is an ongoing measles outbreak in Israel, as well as in the US. In Israel, there have been 4,250 individual cases of measles between March 2018 and May 2019. In the US, the CDC reports that there have been 1,182 individual cases of measles in 30 states this year, and over 75% of them are linked to outbreaks in New York and New York City.

Representatives for El Al Airlines have not yet responded to INSIDER's request for comment. 

Gallery: Adult vaccines: What you need and when (Health.com)

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