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Measles Outbreak: Woman Who Works On New York Flights Lapses Into Coma After Catching Measles

At A Glance

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - An El Al Airlines flight attendant is now in a coma and battling encephalitis after contracting measles.

Israel's Ministry of Health says she may have contracted the disease in New York, in Israel or on a flight between the two.

The news follows reports of a man on a trip from New York who was unknowingly infected with the measles, and after traveling to Michigan, spread the virus to 38 other people there.

Health officials are urging parents to get their young children vaccinated before traveling for the Passover and Easter holidays.

The CDC recommends infants 6 to 11 months old should receive one dose of the vaccine. Children 12 months and older should have received two.


Meanwhile, Rockland County officials announced their next steps Tuesday in combating the measles outbreak. Threatening letters and hefty fines are part of the new tactics.

Rockland county is currently dealing with 186 confirmed measles cases. New York City has had 329 cases since October. In just the last two weeks, Westchester has confirmed ten cases.

Rockland residents are already getting knocks on the door and delivery of notices that say unvaccinated people exposed to measles must stay away from indoor and outdoor public places for 21 days or face $2,000 fines.

"We will restrategize at every opportunity regardless of what's thrown in front of us. That's just what we're going to do," Nassau County Executive Ed Day said.


  • New York City: 285 confirmed cases of measles in Brooklyn and Queens
  • Elsewhere In New York: 180 in Rockland County, 17 in Orange County, 8 in Westchester County and 2 in Sullivan County
  • In New Jersey: 4 in Monmouth County and 7 in Ocean County

County leaders believe a new order that's more focused will stand up to legal challenges. It goes one step further in keeping people who are unvaccinated away from everyone else.

The Rockland County executive and health officials are taking another shot at curbing the measles outbreak. The new order would keep unvaccinated students who don't have medical or religious exemptions in the most affected areas from going to school, and those who have measles or have been exposed to it and are not vaccinated from going to public places, both indoor and outdoor.

The county also has completed an audit of school age children, has their names and addresses, and is ordering parents to keep unvaccinated children home unless they have a religious or medical exemption.

Five of the Rockland children with measles needed time in intensive care.

The measles outbreak is centered in the ultra-Orthodox community, but health officials say unvaccinated people in the general population are definitely at risk. The communities mingle at shopping centers and other pubic places, where the measles virus can survive for hours in the air and on surfaces.

More than 18,000 vaccines have been given as many residents comply with the growing concern. Still, health officials say more needs to be done.

County leaders estimate the impact of this outbreak to be at least $2 million.

Vaccines are available for free, and officials stress that it's safe. Health experts say concerns about the vaccines are "junk science."

Click here for more information on the Rockland County outbreak.

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