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LIRR assures riders after 2nd measles case confirmed in Nassau

A second case of measles in Nassau County

A second case of measles in Nassau County could have exposed people who rode the LIRR on three days this month, officials said. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

The Long Island Rail Road assured customers after health officials said a second adult in Nassau contracted measles, and that the person may have visited a handful of LIRR stations among other places, possibly exposing people to the disease.

"This individual rode on LIRR trains last week, on Sept. 11, 12, 14," the LIRR message, issued Thursday night, read. "Public health authorities [Thursday] assured us that there is no risk from this individual to anyone riding the LIRR today or in the future. However, anyone who visited the same locations at the time the infected person was also present, and up to two hours after, may have been exposed."

The message also provided a link to a county website detailing the health department's findings. 

The department confirmed the measles diagnosis of the Nassau resident on Thursday and is working to determine who else may have been exposed, health officials said. Department officials declined to provide the individual's age, gender, hometown or profession.

Health department officials said the latest individual to contract measles may have visited a handful of local LIRR stations, shuttle bus stops and a restaurant on Sept. 11, 12 and 14. All of the locations except one are related to LIRR stations. Individuals with symptoms who may have been exposed are urged to contact their doctor or health care provider.

"The county’s disease control team is working nonstop with New York State Department of Health to investigate this case and determine the potential exposures," said County Executive Laura Curran in a statement. "Nassau County Department of Health will take appropriate action based on the findings of this case."

The latest case, officials said, may be related to another individual who was diagnosed with measles — a serious and contagious respiratory disease that causes a rash and fever. 

Women who are pregnant, children under the age of six months, the elderly and immunocompromised individuals are most at risk, officials said.

Earlier this month, Nassau officials announced the county's first case of measles since 2013. The individual, who also was not identified, is a resident of a foreign country who recently traveled to the United States, health department officials said.

Nassau Health Department spokeswoman Mary Ellen Laurain said the first individual to contract the disease visited the workplace of the individual who was identified on Thursday. Laurain said the workplace was located outside Nassau but she declined to identify the location.

Nassau identified the locations and dates visited by the Nassau resident as:

  • Sept. 11: Mineola LIRR Station to Penn Station, 3-7 p.m.; Penn Station to Mineola LIRR Station, 11:15 p.m.-2:30 a.m.
  • Sept. 12: Mineola LIRR Station to Penn Station, 10:15 a.m.-1:30 p.m.; Penn Station to Mineola LIRR Station, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 14: Noches de Columbia Restaurant, 204 Jericho Tpke. in Mineola, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; MTA shuttle from Mineola LIRR Station to the Hempstead LIRR station, 2:30-5 p.m.; Hempstead LIRR Station to LIRR Jamaica Station, 3-6 p.m.; Jamaica Station to Penn Station, 3:50-6:30 p.m.; Penn Station to Hempstead Station, between 10 p.m. and 2:30 a.m.; MTA shuttle from Hempstead Station to Mineola Station, 12:15- 2:30 a.m.

Nassau officials said anyone who visited these locations between these hours could have been exposed to measles.

The times identified by the county reflect the period that the infected individual was in the identified areas and a two-hour period afterward. The measles virus remains alive in air and on surfaces for up to two hours.

 "We have a solemn obligation to protect the health and safety of all 1.4 million people who call Nassau County home — especially the thousands of vulnerable people in our communities who cannot receive vaccinations due to health conditions or young age," Curran said. "We will continue to emphasize that the single best way to protect our children and the entire community from serious diseases is through recommended vaccinations. The science remains clear: vaccines are safe, effective, and lifesaving." 

The only other recent case on Long Island, in Suffolk County, was confirmed in April. It also involved a person who had recently arrived in the United States. Health officials determined the person had visited a bank, supermarket and drugstore in Hampton Bays and Southampton while contagious. Suffolk administered the measles vaccine to 38 people potentially exposed, said health department spokeswoman Grace Kelly-McGovern.

Nassau officials said unvaccinated people can catch measles just by being in a room where someone with measles coughed or sneezed. People with measles often develop a fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes, followed by appearance of a rash. People are considered infectious from four days before to four days after the appearance of the rash.

Symptoms typically appear 10-12 days after exposure but may appear as early as 7 days and as late as 21 days after exposure, officials said.

The two-dose measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is 97 percent effective in preventing measles, the state health department said.

Earlier this month, New York City declared an end to its measles outbreak, which led to 654 diagnoses of the virus since October 2018, including 52 related hospitalizations. 

Outside of the city there were 423 confirmed measles cases since October 2018, according to the state Department of Health. More than 300 of those were in Rockland County.

With Alfonso Castillo and Craig Schneider