NY Doctor Isolated for Ebola Symptoms, May Have Infected Others

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October 23, 2014 2:12pm PST

A doctor who treated Ebola patients in Guinea has been placed in isolation at Bellevue Hospital in New York. 33-year-old Dr. Craig Spencer recently returned from West Africa, where he worked with Doctors Without Borders. The Harlem resident was rushed to the hospital today, after exhibiting symptoms of the deadly virus like fever and nausea.

Spencer posted a photo of himself wearing protective gear on Facebook on September 18. “Off to Guinea with Doctors Without Borders (MSF),” the caption reads. “Please support organizations that are sending support or personnel to West Africa, and help combat one of the worst public health and humanitarian disasters in recent history.”

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Spencer may have infected others with Ebola, as he has allegedly been in highly-populated areas of New York. On Wednesday, he reportedly took an Uber taxi to a bowling outing in Williamsburg. He told authorities he was quarantining himself after his recent return from Ebola-ravaged Guinea, though his efforts appear to have been insufficient. He has only been back in the U.S. for ten days, and the incubation period for the virus is 21 days. If Spencer did go out in public, he exposed himself to others well before it was safe to do so. As a doctor, he should have known better.

FDNY hazardous materials specialists have sealed off Spencer’s apartment on W. 147th St. and city health workers are currently attempting to track down anyone the doctor may have come into contact with since his return from West Africa. This could prove a difficult task, as Spencer has allegedly visited establishments where he could have come into contact with others without even realizing it.

“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,” Bellevue Hospital said in a statement.

Brooke Christensen, who lives in the same apartment building as Spencer, said she’s “not concerned” about possibly contracting the Ebola virus. “I’ve had no fluid exchange with my neighbors,” she remarked. Still, there is a chance the virus has mutated and become airborne, which would spell very bad news for Christensen and other Americans.

(Read More: Ebola Now in Northeast)

Council Member Mark Levine, who represents Spencer’s neighborhood, said in a statement:

“I want to assure everyone in Northern Manhattan that City, State and Federal public health authorities are responding with the highest possible level of urgency and marshaling every resource at their disposal to respond to this possible case. I want to reiterate that this has not yet been confirmed as an Ebola case but every precaution is being taken as if it were. For more information on Ebola prevention or if you think you’ve come in contact with the patient, please call 311.”

Preliminary results of tests performed on Spencer will reveal if he does in fact have Ebola. They are expected to be released to the media in the coming hours and we will be sure to let you know as soon as the information becomes available.

Should Spencer have been placed in a mandatory quarantine immediately following his trip to West Africa? This could have prevented the spread of the virus to countless other Americans. Leave your comment below.

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