Health officials announced that a college student diagnosed with measles recently traveled across New York on a train, potentially exposing untold numbers of travelers to the virus, according to news reports.
The infected individual, a student at Bard College, boarded a a 1:20 p.m. Sunday Amtrak train from New York City’s Penn Station to Rhinecliff, N.Y., according to ABC News. The train stopped in Albany before traveling on to Niagara Falls, ABC reported.
“Anyone traveling on Amtrak train #283 from Penn Station in NYC to Albany on January 25, 2015, and who is not immune to measles or not sure of their measles immunity, should contact their primary care physician if they become ill with fever,” the New York State Department of Health said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.
Three New York state residents — one in Dutchess County and two in New York City — have been diagnosed with measles so far this year, ABC reported.
New York requires that college students taking six credits or more show proof of immunity to measles, according to university guidelines.
“At Bard College, medical forms show that a student’s immunity to the disease must be documented, but they don’t state whether exemptions are allowed,” according to ABC.
After notifying students and faculty of the measles case, Bard College, with the help of Dutchess County Department of Health, held a measles vaccination clinic for anyone on campus who has not been vaccinated against measles, according to ABC.
“In order to prevent the spread of illness, DOH is advising individuals who may have been exposed and who have symptoms consistent with measles to call their health care providers or a local emergency room BEFORE going for care. This will help to prevent others at these facilities from being exposed to the illness,” the Health Department said, according to the AP.
The latest measles outbreak has infected more than 100 people across 14 states, according to Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Fifty-eight of those cases, according to the California Department of Public Health, are traceable to an outbreak at Disneyland and another theme park in Southern California that began in late December and now has spread to six other states, including Utah, Washington, Oregon and Colorado.
The outbreak has generated sometimes fierce criticism of people who, for personal reasons or because they mistrust the vaccine, choose not to have their children immunized and prompted at least two school systems in California to ban unvaccinated students from school.
On Friday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Obama believes decisions for vaccinating children should remain in parents hands, but noted that he also thinks the public should heed the advice of public health professionals, according to Reuters.
“I’m not going stand up here and dispense medical advice,” Earnest said, according to the AP. “But I am going to suggest that the president’s view is that people should evaluate this for themselves, with a bias toward good science and toward the advice of our public health professionals, who are trained to offer us exactly this kind of advice.