Ebola Has Come to New York City

Ebola Has Come to New York City

Ebola has come to the Big Apple.

The New York Times reports that a doctor who had treated Ebola patients in West Africa tested positive for the virus, becoming the city’s first diagnosed case.

A second test will be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to confirm the initial test.

The doctor, Craig Spencer, was rushed to Bellevue Hospital on Thursday and placed in isolation. 

The 33-year-old physician, employed at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, had recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea, the Times reports. Spencer developed a fever, nausea, pain and fatigue Wednesday night, a law enforcement official told CNN.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said test results on the doctor would be made public, possibly late on Thursday evening.

Health care workers have spread out across the city to identify anyone Spencer might have come into contact with in recent days. According to a statement released by the New York City Department of Health, Spencer’s travel history and the timing of his symptoms have led health officials to dispatch “disease detectives immediately began to actively trace all of the patient’s contacts to identify anyone who may be at potential risk."

"It is our understanding very few people were in direct contact with him," de Blasio said at a news conference. "Every protocol has been followed."

Spencer reportedly visited a popular bowling alley in the hipster Mecca of Williamsburg on Wednesday evening.

Is New York ready? According to a statement from the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, Bellevue Hospital has four single-bed rooms in its infectious disease ward to treat “high probability or confirmed Ebola cases":

The hospital is particularly well suited due to its long history of being on the front lines of epidemics and emerging public health threats, and managing an isolation unit for diseases, such as TB, for many years with support from and collaboration with the City Health Department.

Mashable notes that three other hospitals in New York City have also been designated by the state to treat suspected and confirmed Ebola cases: Mt. Sinai, New York Presbyterian in Manhattan and Montefiore in the Bronx.

Don't freak out. A reminder: While the prospect of Ebola in a major U.S. city is alarming, it's extremely difficult to contract it. You have to come in direct contact with either bodily fluids, an object like a syringe that's also contaminated with the disease, or a fruit bat or primate, somehow, in the streets of New York.



"How might Ebola be passed on a subway?" asked Times reporter Don McNeil earlier in October. "If someone ejected bloody mucus or vomitus onto a subway pole, and the next passenger were to touch it while it was still wet and then, for some unimaginable reason, were to put those wet fingers into an eye or mouth instead of wiping them in disgust — then yes, it could happen."

At least 4,877 people have died in the world's worst recorded outbreak of Ebola, and at least 9,936 cases of the disease had been recorded as of Oct. 19, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.