82-year-old measles patient dies in Jerusalem

Health Ministry says woman also suffered from a severe hematologic disease; 194 Israelis have been hospitalized with the viral infection

Illustrative: A patient getting a measles vaccination in Jerusalem in November 2018. (Courtesy Health Ministry)
Illustrative: A patient getting a measles vaccination in Jerusalem in November 2018. (Courtesy Health Ministry)

An 82-year-old woman died Wednesday after being admitted to Hadassah Hospital Ein Karem with measles earlier this month.

The Health Ministry noted that the woman also suffered from a severe hematologic disease.

As of Wednesday, 2,690 Israelis were being treated for measles, with October marking the peak month, in which 948 people were hospitalized. There was a small drop in November to 893 patients, and there have been 194 Israeli hospitalized so far in December.

The disease has been making a major comeback in Israel amid a decline in some communities of parents vaccinating their children.

Infections have mostly centered on the country’s ultra-Orthodox community, where inoculation rates have generally been low. In November, an 18-month-old toddler in Jerusalem died of the disease, the first recorded death from measles in Israel in the past 15 years.

Earlier this week, the Israel Defense Forces announced that several hundred soldiers at the army’s Kirya headquarters base in Tel Aviv were at risk of carrying the virus. The military was working to contact the soldiers, who were all in the vicinity of a female soldier who arrived at the Kirya’s medical clinic with measles symptoms last week.

Illustration of a man receiving a vaccine in Safed. November 06, 2018.(David Cohen/FLASH90)

Last Wednesday a 16-month-old girl was hospitalized in critical condition suffering from meningitis and pneumonia as the result of a measles infection. The toddler was being treated at the pediatric intensive care unit at the Emek Medical Center in northern Israel.

Authorities were checking if the girl, who is from an ultra-Orthodox family, may have contracted the disease during a visit to relatives in Jerusalem. According to news reports, the girl was not immunized.

Concerns about the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine surfaced in 1998, when a British study, since discredited, linked it with autism. The study was found to be a fraud and the autism link was debunked, but vaccination rates have dropped in some countries and communities, as concerned parents have prevented children receiving their shots.

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