Rapid response teams from the Centers for Disease Control arrived in New York City early Friday morning, just hours after an emergency room physician named Craig Spencer tested positive for Ebola at Bellevue Hospital late Thursday. The teams are working quickly to retrace the doctor’s steps in the city over the past days. Spencer recently returned from West Africa where he was working with Doctors Without Borders to treat Ebola patients in Guinea.
Since returning to New York, he is known to have traveled via car service in Brooklyn, and rode the A and L subway lines prior to falling ill. The CDC is working to identify all those who have may have had direct contact with Spencer. His fiancee was placed in quarantine but is healthy, the Health Department told NBC News.
Spencer is now the city’s first confirmed case of the deadly virus. He was rushed to the hospital early Thursday where he was placed in isolation. Although the city’s Health Department said Thursday that Spencer had a 103-degree fever, Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed Friday morning that his actual temperature had been almost three degrees lower – 100.3 – and was initially misreported due to a transcription error.
“Bellevue Hospital is one of eight New York State hospitals that Governor Cuomo has designated to treat Ebola patients,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement released late Thursday, adding, “A specially trained CDC team determined earlier this week that the hospital has been trained in proper protocols and is well prepared to treat Ebola patients.”
“Symptoms usually occur within eight to 10 days of infection and Dr. Spencer was home nine days when he reported feeling ill,” The New York Times reports. According to the CDC’s statement, Spencer returned through JFK Airport on Oct. 17 “and participated in the enhanced screening for all returning travelers from these countries.”
The CDC will conduct further testing on Spencer to confirm Thursday’s initial test. Meanwhile, health care workers are investigating those with whom Spencer may have come into contact since returning to the United States.
The Ebola virus is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of a person who is symptomatic. The CDC recommends monitoring exposed people for symptoms a complete 21 days.
President Obama was briefed Thursday evening on Spencer’s case. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a joint news conference at the hospital Thursday evening.
PHOTO ESSAY: Ebola continues its deadly march
In Ohio, 164 people remain under the Center for Disease Control’s Ebola watch and three are under quarantine; in Texas, more than 100 are being monitored for the virus.
Nurses Amber Vinson and Nina Pham, both of whom tested positive for Ebola after treating Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian resident who became the first person diagnosed with the deadly disease on U.S. soil, have both recovered from the disease and have been declared Ebola-free. Duncan died just over two weeks ago.
Last week, President Obama named longtime politico Ron Klain as the country’s first-ever Ebola response coordinator.
The current epidemic has so far claimed the lives of nearly 4,500 people, according to the World Health Organization. Those deaths have occurred primarily in three West African countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Thousands more are at risk, health officials warn, not just in West Africa, but around the world.