Tourist with measles rode Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls; measles exposure warning

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The Maid of the Mist tour boat at the base of American Falls in Niagara Falls, N.Y., in 2010. (AP file)

A tourist from India who visited Niagara Falls and went for a ride on the famous Maid of the Mist tour boat this month has measles, the New York State Department of Health said. So now DOH is warning anyone who went to the same locations as the tourist in western New York on May 11 and May 12, 2017, could have been exposed to the dangerous virus.

You are not at risk if you are immune to measles, but do you know if you are immune? If you received two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine; or were born before January 1, 1957; or have had a lab test confirming your immunity then you are not likely to contract measles, the DOH said.

"Those individuals lacking immunity or not sure if they have been vaccinated, should contact their health care provider if they develop measles symptoms," the DOH said in a news release. "Symptoms include a fever, rash, cough, conjunctivitis or runny nose. Symptoms usually appear in 10-12 days after exposure, although they may occur as late as June 2, 2017."

This is very important: If you visited any of these locations and you have symptoms consistent with measles, do not just show up at the doctor's office or hospital. Officials want you to call your doctor or local emergency room first to "help to prevent others at these facilities from being exposed to the illness" because the disease is highly contagious.

The tourist visited these four locations, so if you were here during these times you may have been exposed:

Iroquois Travel Plaza rest stop between Exit 29 (Canajoharie) and Exit 29A (Little Falls) on the New York State Thruway, 8:30 p.m., May 11–12:30 a.m., May 12.

The Hampton Inn at 4873 Lake Road in Brockport, 12 a.m. –12 p.m., May 12.

Niagara Falls State Park in Niagara Falls, 11 a.m. –5 p.m., May 12 (includes the Maid of the Mist).

Swagat Fine Indian Cuisine at 24 Buffalo Avenue in Niagara Falls, 2–6 p.m., May 12, 2017.

(Note: The measles virus remains alive in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours, the DOH said. That is why the time frames overlap.)

Symptoms generally appear in two stages, according to the DOH:

"In the first stage, which lasts two to four days, the individual may have a runny nose, cough and a slight fever. Eyes may become reddened and sensitive to light while the fever gradually rises each day, often peaking as high as 103° to 105° F. Small bluish white spots surrounded by a reddish area may also appear on the inside of the mouth.

"The second stage begins on the third to seventh day and consists of a red blotchy rash lasting five to six days. The rash usually begins on the face and then spreads downward and outward, reaching the hands and feet. The rash fades in the same order that it appeared, from head to extremities. A person can spread measles from 4 days before the onset of rash through 4 days after the rash begins. Although measles is usually considered a childhood disease, it can be contracted at any age."

Measles is common in parts of Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa, according to the CDC. Measles kills about 134,200 people around the world each year. Measles cases in the United States are usually linked to international travel, as is this situation in Niagara Falls.

Unvaccinated people -- either Americans traveling overseas or foreign visitors -- get infected in other countries, the CDC said, and then spread measles to others, which can cause outbreaks in the United States. That is why the CDC urges Americans and U.S. residents to protect themselves against measles before traveling abroad.

Here are more resources about measles:

NYS Health Department

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This is a video from the CDC: