Dr Craig Spencer, 33, a New York City doctor who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea on the 14th of October via Europe and arrived on Oct 17 has tested positive for the deadly disease on Thursday. According to a statement from the New York City department of health and mental hygiene, he reported experiencing symptoms like fever and gastrointestinal problems Thursday morning, and was transported to Bellevue Hospital in an ambulance staffed by a “specially trained HAZ TAC unit wearing Personal Protective Equipment,” and was found to have developed a 103 degree fever.
According to the NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio who spoke during an evening press conference, “There is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed. New Yorkers who have not been exposed to an infected person’s bodily fluids are not at all at risk.” Sharing a subway car or living near someone with Ebola does not transmit the disease, added de Blasio. Gov. Andrew Cuomo also added that “We are as ready as one could be for this circumstance, what happened in Dallas was unfortunately the exact opposite — we had the advantage of learning from the Dallas experience.”
Dr. Mary Travis Bassett, the NYC health commissioner said during the press conference that he didn’t have any symptoms on arrival, but he checked his temperature twice a day as a precaution, until late Thursday morning. On Wednesday, Spencer took subway trains A, 1 and L, visited the High Line park, a restaurant and then a bowling alley called The Gutter in Williamsburg. Brooklyn Vegan reported that the bowling alley was shut down after it was confirmed that Spencer had visited it.
Huffington Post reported that the three people Spencer had contact with since returning to the U.S. were to be quarantined and monitored. According to CNN, one of the three identified as Morgan Dixon, Spencer’s fiancée is in isolation in the hospital and the Manhattan apartment they both shared had also been quarantined. A fourth person Spencer had contact with, an Uber driver who transported him Wednesday night is not considered at risk, said Bassett, as Spencer didn’t have any symptoms at the bowling alley. In a statement, Uber confirmed that public health officials personally met with the driver in question to say Spencer posed no risk to anyone in the car, nor subsequent passengers.Spencer also told officials that he was in full protective gear during his time treating patients in Guinea, and is aware of no breach in safety protocols.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Spencer is an international emergency medicine fellow at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center . The hospital released a statement praising Spencer as a “dedicated humanitarian, who went to an area of medical crisis to help a desperately under-served population ” reports CNN. They also assured the public that he had not reported back to work at the hospital since arriving from Guinea and wished him all the best at this time. Spencer also told officials that he was in full protective gear during his time treating patients in Guinea, and is aware of no breach in safety protocols.
Bellevue Hospital is one of eight designated facilities for the isolation, diagnosis and treatment of Ebola patients in New York. It has four single-bed rooms that are capable of receiving confirmed Ebola cases. The area, which is located in the hospital’s infectious disease ward, also has an onsite laboratory for handling Ebola samples, according to a statement released on Oct. 15. He is the only case of Ebola in New York City and is now the fourth person to be diagnosed in the U.S. with the viral disease. President Barack Obama was notified of his diagnosis and has been briefed on his condition, tweeted CNN reporter Shimon Prokupecz.