Jan 20, 2019 | Updated: 08:39 AM EST

[Ebola Update] New York City records its first ebola case; patient took "populated" subway

Oct 24, 2014 02:42 PM EDT


New York City has met its first challenge: how to contain a deadly, contagious disease in a metropolis bustling with life--economically and demographically. This, after a medical doctor, who in the past weeks was only treating Ebola patients in Guinea, was diagnosed to have been infected with the virus.

Dr. Craig Spencer is NYC's first case of the Ebola, and is now confined and being treated at the Bellevue Hospital Center-the city's designated medical center to admit Ebola patients. A separate test is also being done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to verify the case.

The 33-year old patient recently worked with Doctors Without Borders which he also contacted Thursday morning to report a fever, which was the group's protocol, reports from New York Times said.

Concerns over the possibility of Dr. Spencer spreading the virus, one way or another, have been raised, understandably as Ebola has been known to be a highly contagious disease. All the activities of the doctor since he arrived in the U.S have been traced to ensure that all those who he had contact with are quarantined and tested. This is also to pacify New Yorkers who might be worried about the possibility of a contagion.

News reports have confirmed that Dr. Spencer had traveled on the A and L subway lines Wednesday night before visiting a bowling alley in Williamsburg. Only after these activities did he feel the symptoms, recording an increased temperature of 103 degrees.

According to the CDC, people become contagious after they begin to display symptoms, and the virus cannot be spread through air. The sicker the person becomes, the higher the viral load is in the body making them very contagious.

This is not the case for Spencer when he was out in public. According to  city health commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, "Spencer did not have a stage of disease that creates a risk of contagiousness on the subway."

"We consider it extremely unlikely, the probability being close to nil, that there will be any problem related to his taking the subway system," she added as she wards off unnecessary speculations about Spencer's "contagious state" when he was out on the streets.

Among those he had contact with are his fiancée (who has been quarantined at Bellevue), and two other friends. Updates  on the three said that none of them were showing signs of illness.

Meanwhile, NYC  Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a news conference at Bellevue Thursday night, reassured New Yorkers that there was no reason to be alarmed as the doctor was asymptomatic when he was out with other people. The mayor said, "We want to state at the outset that there is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed. The Health Department has a team of disease detective who have been at work tracing all of the patient's contacts and we are prepared to quarantine contacts as necessary."

 "Being on the same subway car or living near a person with Ebola does not in itself put someone at risk," de Blasio added.

Now, whether New York could overcome this situation is a question that remains to be seen as we await developments on Dr. Spencer's condition. On a positive note, Bellevue and other New York City hospitals have been preparing and conducting drills for the possibility of an Ebola case. And just last Tuesday, the hospitals held Ebola education session for over 5,000 local health care workers.

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