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Tourist with measles may have exposed many in region, health officials say

The entrance to The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The entrance to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. Credit: AFP/Getty Images / STAN HONDA

An Australian tourist with a confirmed case of measles, who visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, may have inadvertently exposed people throughout a vast swath of the region to the highly contagious virus, state health officials said Friday.

The tourist, whose name, gender and other identifying details were not released, participated in the Oasis Bible Tour group at the museum.

In a move that amounts to old fashioned gumshoe detective work, state health officials retraced the tourist’s activities and uncovered a path that stretched from New York City to Putnam County and beyond.

New York residents who may have been at any of the locations listed by health officials should see a doctor if they have not been vaccinated against measles or never had the infection, health officials said.

The Australian visitor stayed at a La Quinta Inn on 71st Street in Manhattan from Feb. 16 to the morning of Feb. 19, and participated in the museum’s bible group the morning of Feb. 16 and the evening of Feb. 17.

The tourist then visited a Jehovah’s Witness educational center in Putnam County and on Feb. 19-20 stayed at Best Western Hotel on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

Additional stops were made at an Orange County hotel; an urgent care center in Orange and the Orange Regional Medical Center’s emergency department.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by a virus spread via direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of carriers. The risk of developing the infection is very low for anyone who has been vaccinated against it, or who has had measles in the past.

The disease had been eradicated in Western nations, but has been on a rebound in some parts of the world as increasingly more people shun vaccines.

The World Health Organization reported last week that outbreaks in Europe resulted in a quadrupling of cases last year alone, rising from 5,273 confirmed cases in 2016 to 21,315 last year. WHO estimates that 35 children in Europe died in 2017 of measles.