A flight attendant who was diagnosed with measles after flying from New York to Israel has died. The family of Rotem Amitai confirmed to CBS News that the 43-year-old died after being hospitalized for months.
“Rotem was a wonderful woman and a devoted mother,” her family said in a statement, according to Israeli news outlet Ynetnews. “We are grieving her premature departure.”
The mother of three worked for the Israeli airline El Al. She started experiencing symptoms in late March after being on an El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv, Israeli media reported.
Around that time, a county about 40 miles north of New York City declared a state of emergency because of a measles outbreak. It was unclear how Amitai contracted the virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles symptoms show between seven and 14 days after a person comes into contact with the highly contagious virus. People can become infected by breathing contaminated air or touching a contaminated surface and then touching their eyes, mouth or nose.
Amitai was admitted to a hospital in April, and she remained hospitalized up to her death on Tuesday, Ynetnews reported. According to the Times of Israel, she had meningoencephalitis, a complication of measles that affects the brain and its lining.
While she was receiving treatment, it was determined that Amitai had only received one of the two recommended shots for the measles vaccine. In response, El Al told its flight attendants to get vaccinated, according to reports.
“El Al mourns the death of a member of the airline’s flight crew,” the airline said in a statement to CBS News. “We have taken steps to have our air crews inoculated.”
Amitai is the third person to have died from measles in Israel since November, according to the Times of Israel.