Just as it seemed the authorities had the Ebola outbreak under control, a doctor returning from West Africa was taken to Bellevue Hospital and placed in isolation on Thursday. Medical staff at the Bellevue Hospital will now wait on tests to determine whether or not the doctor has the deadly Ebola virus.
The patient is identified as Dr. Craig Spencer.
It was just recently that all incoming passengers from the West Africa countries, where an Ebola outbreak is ongoing, were required to fly into one of designated five airports. The results of the test will not be unknown until late Thursday.
However, The New York Times reports that health authorities have already started to identify and contact anyone who might have come into with the doctor. Bellevue is one of the eight hospitals in New York designated earlier this month as part of an Ebola preparedness plan.
“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,” a statement released by the city health department said.
Dr. Spencer spent time treating patients suffering from Ebola in Guinea in September.
The doctor developed a fever and gastrointestinal problems similar to those suffering from the Ebola virus. According to the New York Post, the patient returned to the United States ten days ago. Twenty-one days is the maximum incubation period for Ebola.
Dr. Spencer works for New York-Presbyterian Hospital, it is reported that he spent Wednesday evening in a bowling alley. The patient took the subway to Brooklyn and a taxi home.
As the CDC reports, “Ebola on dry surfaces, such as doorknobs and countertops, can survive for several hours; however, virus in body fluids (such as blood) can survive up to several days at room temperature.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking at a news conference Thursday evening, said Dr. Spencer has given health workers a detailed accounting of his activities over the last few days.
“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.
“We’re hoping for a good outcome for this individual.”
The city health department said it was tracing all of the patient’s contacts to identify anyone who may be at potential risk. It said the patient had been transported by a specially trained unit wearing protective gear.
Ebola has killed nearly 4,900 people, mainly in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Thomas Eric Duncan was the first person to be diagnosed with the virus in the United States after landing in Dallas. Two nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, contracted the Ebola virus while taking care the Liberian patient.
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