The fourth case of Ebola in the U.S. has been diagnosed in New York City after a physician who recently treated Ebola patients in West Africa tested positive for the virus, according to preliminary test results, the Associated Press reports.
Further tests will be performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm the initial findings.
According to AP, Dr. Craig Spencer recently returned to New York after a trip to West Africa with the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders to treat Ebola patients. The 33-year-old emergency room doctor began showing signs of the virus on Thursday and was rushed to Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital with a 100.3-degree fever and diarrhea. Bellevue is a designated Ebola center, and AP notes that Spencer was being treated in a specially built isolation ward.
The CDC has dispatched an Ebola response team to the hospital, and "city disease detectives have been tracing the doctor's contacts after Spencer admitted to riding the subway and taking a cab to go bowling in Brooklyn this past weekend. The disease detectives are hoping to identify anyone who may be at risk," AP notes.
Spencer has a fiancee, who has shown no signs of the virus. But city officials have her under watch in a quarantine ward at Bellevue. City officials told the news service that Spencer's apartment in Harlem has been cordoned off and the Department of Health has provided information to area residents.
Mayor Bill de Blasio told AP that "proper protocols were followed every step of the way, and it didn't appear the doctor had been showing symptoms for very long."
"The patient is in good shape and has gone into a great deal of detail with our personnel as to his actions the last few days, so we have a lot to work with," de Blasio told AP before Spencer tested positive. "We have a patient who has been very communicative and precise and who has only been back a very short time and has been quite clear about individuals he had close contact with."
According to AP, the doctor reported feeling fatigued Wednesday, but on Thursday, when he detected a fever—a sign of possible Ebola infection—he and his fiancee called authorities and gave them specific details about his travels. AP notes that police and EMTs, taking all precautions, arrived at Spencer's apartment in full Ebola gear.
"As per the specific guidelines that Doctors Without Borders provides its staff on their return from Ebola assignments, the individual engaged in regular health monitoring and reported this development immediately," the international humanitarian organization said in a statement viewed by AP.
Health officials noted that the virus can be spread only through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.
According to AP, in a statement the hospital that employs Spencer called him a "dedicated humanitarian" who "went to an area of medical crisis to help a desperately underserved population."
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