A doctor who treated Ebola patients in Guinea and returned to the US last week has tested positive for the Ebola virus here, becoming New York city’s first diagnosed case.
Craig Spencer, 33, is currently ‘hospitalized in isolation’ at the Bellevue Hospital, one of eight New York State hospitals that Governor Andrew Cuomo has designated to treat Ebola patients.
A specially trained Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) team determined earlier this week that the hospital has been trained in proper protocols and is well prepared to treat Ebola patients.
Spencer, who had been working with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, returned to New York City through JFK Airport on October 17, according to the CDC.
He had been subjected to the enhanced screening for all returning travelers from countries most affected by the Ebola epidemic. He went through multiple layers of screening and did not have a fever or other symptoms of illness.
He reported a fever of 103 degrees to local health officials for the first time on Thursday and was immediately transported by a specially trained Hazardous Material Tactical Units unit wearing Personal Protective Equipment to Bellevue.
In the days since he returned, Spencer had taken the subway and visited a bowling alley in Brooklyn.
City officials said while the number of people who could have come into contact with him is very less, his girlfriend and a couple of friends have been quarantined and health officials are trying to determine whether there were other people the patient had come in contact with before he began showing symptoms of the virus.
Officials have said that Spencer was monitoring his temperature and confined himself to his apartment most of the time.
The New York City Health Department has interviewed the patient regarding close contacts and activities and CDC is in close communications with the New York City Health Department and Bellevue Hospital, and is providing technical assistance and resources.
Seeking to allay fears about the possible spread of the virus in one of the most densely packed and populated cities in the world, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “there is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed” and the city has “been preparing for months for the threat posed by Ebola.”
The mayor said that Bellevue is “the most battle tested”.
Reiterating that Ebola is an extremely hard disease to contract, the mayor said, “We are working very closely with our state and federal partners…To protect the health and safety of New Yorkers.”