Doctor being tested for Ebola in New York City
Went bowling in Williamsburg on Wednesday
A doctor who had been to West Africa was being tested for Ebola at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.
“Preliminary test results are expected to be completed in the next 12 hours. It is important to remember that the symptoms exhibited by this patient can be indicative of other illnesses and that there is no confirmed case at this time,” Dr. Howard Zucker, acting commissioner of the New York State Department of Health (DOH) said in a statement,
DOH is “closely monitoring this potential case and is working with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure that all appropriate protocols are being followed to protect public health and safety,” he said.
The patient has been identified as Manhattan resident Dr. Craig Allen Spencer, 33, New York government sources told ABC News.
Dr. Spencer has been working with Doctors Without Borders. If he tests positive, he would be the fourth patient to be diagnosed in the United States.
Late Thursday, unconfirmed rumors on social media speculated that Dr. Spencer took an Uber car to a bowling alley in Williamsburg, Brooklyn Wednesday night.
A spokesperson at Brooklyn Bowl told the Brooklyn Eagle late Thursday, “We are aware of the reports that an individual being tested for Ebola attended an event in Williamsburg last night, but we have not been contacted by authorities.”
Update: Dr. Spencer went bowling at Gutter, not Brooklyn Bowl as earlier reporteed. Performances at Gutter were canceled Thursday night. Brooklyn Bowl was open.
The city’s Health Department said on Thursday that Dr. Spencer was transported by a specially trained HAZ TAC unit wearing Personal Protective Equipment. After consulting with the hospital and the CDC, the Health Department decided to conduct a test for the Ebola virus “because of this patient’s recent travel history, pattern of symptoms, and past work.”
The Health Department and HHC are also evaluating the patient for other causes of illness, as these symptoms can also be consistent with salmonella, malaria, or the stomach flu. The Health Department’s team of disease detectives is tracing all of the patient’s contacts to identify anyone who may be at potential risk, the city said.
Dr. Spencer landed at JFK airport on Oct. 17 on a connecting flight from Brussels, a source told the New York Post.
Bellevue Hospital is one of the eight hospitals statewide that Governor Cuomo designated earlier this month as part of his Ebola Preparedness Plan to handle potential cases. Four of the hospitals are located in New York City. Besides Bellevue, these include Mt. Sinai and New York Presbyterian in Manhattan, and Montefiore in the Bronx.
Zucker said that Bellevue is “prepared and equipped for the isolation, identification, and treatment of any such patients.”
Health officials had visited a town hall in Brooklyn Wednesday night, seeking to defuse panic and misperceptions about Ebola.
“Out of 155 calls about suspected Ebola in New York City, zero tested positive,” Dr. Karen Aletha Maybank, assistant commissioner of the NYC Department of Health (DOH) said at the forum. There have as yet been no confirmed cases of Ebola in New York City, she said.
Nonetheless, the city is training and will take steps to contain the disease if it does arrive, she said.
The West African community is at the greatest risk, Maybank said. “People should not be afraid to seek care. No hospital should be asking about immigration status or ability to pay.”
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