New York City has its first confirmed Ebola case as of Thursday, as a physician working with Doctors Without Borders combatting the disastrous outbreak in West Africa recently returned to New York and began displaying symptoms Wednesday evening after a recreational outing to a bowling alley.
As reported earlier by The Inquisitr, Dr. Craig Spencer, age 33, was rushed to Bellevue Medical Center in New York City where he was immediately placed in isolation and was tested for the presence of the Ebola virus. The test came back positive later in the day on Thursday.
The Center for Disease Control is now performing further tests on Spencer in an attempt to confirm the initial Ebola diagnosis.
New York City hazardous materials teams sealed off Spencer’s apartment and wrapped him up “like a mummy,” according to one witness, as he was transported to Bellevue. The street where Spencer resided in New York was blocked off.
According to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Spencer returned from Guinea via Brussels about 10 days ago, but experienced the Ebola symptoms — which included a 104 degree fever, nausea, pain and fatigue — for only a brief period before being taken to Bellevue and isolated.
The Mayor said that Spencer is believed to have come in contact with very few people after the onset of his symptoms, and “careful protocols were followed every step of the way,” de Blasio said.
Nonetheless, the New York City Health Department has dispatched a team of “disease detectives” to trace anyone who may have come in contact with Spencer, who is said to be cooperating fully with health authorities.
“The chances of the average New Yorker contracting Ebola are extremely slim,” the health department said in a statement.
Ebola is contagious only once a patient exhibits symptoms, and even then can be transmitted only through contact with a bodily secretion of an infected person. The disease, unlike tuberculosis for example, is not transmitted through airborne particles.
“New York has mobilized not only a world-class health department, but has full engagement of many other agencies that need to be on the response team,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, who also advises de Blasio on disaster preparedness.
Spencer works at Columbia University’s New York Presbyterian Hospital, but the hospital said that he has not been at the hospital or seen patients since he came back from West Africa.
Spencer took Uber’s car service to and from his bowling outing Wednesday night.
Bellevue hospital was designated earlier in October as part of New York’s Ebola preparedness plan. The arrival of an Ebola case in New York City has not been a surprise to New York health officials, who have been preparing for the city’s first Ebola case for weeks.