Ebola In New York: Doctor Tests Positive for Virus

Health care workers display protective gear, which hospital staff would wear to protect them from an Ebola virus infection, inside an isolation room as part of a media tour in the emergency department of Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, New York. (REUTERS)
Health care workers display protective gear, which hospital staff would wear to protect them from an Ebola virus infection, inside an isolation room as part of a media tour in the emergency department of Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, New York. (REUTERS)

A doctor who treated Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus in New York City, officials said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, along with other city officials, said at a Thursday evening press conference that preliminary tests have confirmed the first case in the city. The CDC will conduct another test to confirm the official diagnosis.

“We want to state at the outset that there is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed,” de Blasio said.

The New York Times was the first to report that the patient, identified as Dr. Craig Spencer, had tested positive for the virus after he was rushed to Bellevue Hospital in New York Thursday.

Spencer, a 33-year-old emergency room doctor, was working with Doctors Without Borders and returned from Guinea more than a week ago. Officials were contacted after he reported a fever and gastrointestinal symptoms, according to a statement from the commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Cuomo said that New York City was “as ready as one can be for this circumstance.” He said the city is much more prepared than a Dallas hospital was when the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. was admitted there last month.

“The more facts you know, the less frightening the situation is,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo said New York officials spoke earlier in the day with the White House’s new Ebola czar Ron Klain, who immediately dispatched a CDC Ebola response team to the city.

City officials say Spencer acknowledged riding multiple subway lines and taking a cab to a Brooklyn bowling alley called “The Gutter” in the past week before he started showing symptoms. He also visited the High Line park and went on a three-mile jog.

The city’s health commissioner, Mary Bassett, said Spencer’s fiancé and two friends had been quarantined. The city has also been in contact with an Uber driver who drove Spencer, but said the two did not have direct contact.

According to a rough timeline provided by city officials, the doctor’s symptoms developed Wednesday, prompting him to isolate himself in his apartment.

When he felt worse Thursday, he and his fiancé made a joint call to authorities to detail his symptoms and his travels. EMTs in full Ebola gear arrived and took him to Bellevue in an ambulance surrounded by police squad cars.

His Harlem apartment was cordoned off, and his fiancé , who was not showing symptoms, was being watched in a quarantine ward at Bellevue. Bellevue Hospital is one of eight hospitals designated by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to treat Ebola in the state.

“As a further precaution, beginning today, the Health Department’s team of disease detectives immediately began to actively trace all of the patient’s contacts to identify anyone who may be at potential risk,” New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene commissioner Mary Bassett said in an earlier statement. “The Health Department staff has established protocols to identify, notify and, if necessary, quarantine any contacts of Ebola cases,” she said.

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SOURCE: FOX News, The Associated Press

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