The flight attendant who contracted measles on a flight from New York City may have suffered brain damage — and her condition is worsening, according to a report Thursday.
The unidentified 43-year-old El Al flight attendant is receiving treatment in an isolated intensive-care unit at a hospital, reports said. She now has meningoencephalitis, a disease caused by infection or inflammation of the brain and the thin layers of tissue covering the brain called the meninges, the Times of Israel reports, citing local media.
Israeli health officials issued an alert earlier this month regarding the woman, who traveled on El Al Flight 002 on March 26, departing from Kennedy Airport and landing in Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport a day later. She was hospitalized four days after landing. The warning urged passengers and crew on the flight to seek medical help if they developed a fever.
Health authorities do not suspect that the woman spread the potentially fatal virus to anyone else aboard the flight, CNN reported Wednesday. Dr. Itamar Grotto, associate director general of Israel’s Ministry of Health, said she had been in a “deep coma” for 10 days after being admitted to a hospital with a fever March 31.
The woman — who had been healthy prior to contracting measles — was vaccinated as a child but only received one dose, which is considered less effective than the two-dose practice administered in the United States beginning in 1989, authorities said.
Messages seeking comment from Israeli health officials were not returned, but a spokesman told the Washington Post on Wednesday that the flight attendant was unconscious and in serious condition.
Reps from El Al, meanwhile, have told the Jerusalem Post that the airline operates according to Ministry of Health guidelines.
“The Ministry issued precise instructions for all passengers on the flight,” El Al said in a statement to the newspaper. “If you have further questions, contact your family doctor or the Health Ministry.”
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