Breaking News Update: NBC News has confirmed that Dr. Craig Spencer, a patient being treated for Ebola symptoms in New York City, has tested positive for the disease.
A health care worker just back from West Africa is being isolated and checked for Ebola virus at New York’s Bellevue Hospital, city health officials said Thursday. It’s a by-the-book operation demonstrating the nation’s heightened new state of readiness for Ebola, and by far the most high profile yet.There have been dozens of such scares in recent weeks, ever since Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola at a Dallas hospital earlier this month after mistakenly having been sent home. None of the cases have turned out to be Ebola.
But this one’s a little different — the patient was working with Doctors Without Borders in one of the countries affected by Ebola, and the symptoms include fever and stomach upset.
He’d been watching himself for fever.
“While at this stage there is no confirmation that the individual has contracted Ebola, Doctors Without Borders, in the interest of public safety and in accordance with its protocols, immediately notified the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, which is directly managing the individual’s care,” Doctors Without Borders said in a statement.
Health care workers are among those at highest risk of being infected, because they work so closely with very ill patients and are in frequent contact with infectious bodily fluids such as vomit.
“The patient was transported by a specially trained HAZ TAC unit wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE),” the city health department said in a statement, adding that after consultation with the hospital and the CDC, they would test for Ebola. They are also checking him for malaria, salmonella and stomach viruses because they can all cause similar symptoms.
Bellevue recently showed off its new Ebola-ready isolation ward.
Because of recent worries about Ebola, the health department added this calming statement: “The chances of the average New Yorker contracting Ebola are extremely slim. Ebola is spread by directly touching the bodily fluids of an infected person. You cannot be infected simply by being near someone who has Ebola.”