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1st NYC Ebola Case; 3 More Quarantined 10/24 06:44

   A doctor who became New York City's first Ebola patient was praised for 
getting treatment immediately upon showing symptoms, and health officials 
stressed that the nation's most populous city need not fear his wide-ranging 
travel in the days before his illness began.

   NEW YORK (AP) -- A doctor who became New York City's first Ebola patient was 
praised for getting treatment immediately upon showing symptoms, and health 
officials stressed that the nation's most populous city need not fear his 
wide-ranging travel in the days before his illness began.

   Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged residents not to be alarmed 
by the doctor's diagnosis Thursday, even as they described him riding the 
subway, taking a cab and bowling since returning to New York from Guinea a week 
ago. De Blasio said all city officials followed "clear and strong" protocols in 
their handling and treatment of him.

   "We want to state at the outset that New Yorkers have no reason to be 
alarmed," de Blasio said. "New Yorkers who have not been exposed are not at all 
at risk."

   The doctor, Craig Spencer, a member of Doctors Without Borders, reported 
Thursday morning coming down with a 103-degree fever and diarrhea. He was being 
treated in an isolation ward at Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital, a designated 
Ebola center.

   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will do a further test 
to confirm the initial results, has dispatched an Ebola response team to New 
York. President Barack Obama spoke to Cuomo and de Blasio on Thursday night and 
offered the federal government's support. He asked them to stay in close touch 
with Ron Klain, his "Ebola czar," and public health officials in Washington.

   Health officials have been tracing Spencer's contacts to identify anyone who 
may be at risk. The city's health commissioner, Mary Bassett, said Spencer's 
fiancee and two friends had been quarantined but showed no symptoms.

   Health officials say the chances of the average New Yorker contracting 
Ebola, which is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an 
infected person, are slim. Someone can't be infected just by being near someone 
who is sick with Ebola. Someone isn't contagious unless he is sick.

   Bassett said the probability was "close to nil" that Spencer's subway rides 
would pose a risk. Still, the bowling alley was closed as a precaution, and 
Spencer's Harlem apartment was cordoned off. The Department of Health was on 
site across the street from the apartment building Thursday night, giving out 
information to area residents.

   Still, the news rankled some New Yorkers. "Oh my gosh!" said Charles Kerr, 
60, as his friends gathered on a Harlem sidewalk murmured. "This changes the 
situation. The guy must be coughing, sitting against people. Now you've got to 
think."

   Kerr said he wasn't afraid, but he wants a stricter approach to anyone 
coming from the Ebola-affected countries.

   "Stay in their apartment," he said. "Especially now, when it's so rampant. 
Especially if they know they've been in contact."

   Other neighbors expressed concern for the doctor's health.

   "I feel sorry. I just hope they can nip this in the butt and find something 
to cure it because this is terrible," said Joyce Harrison.

   Juan Sanchez said he wasn't concerned for himself, but would be worried if 
it spread.

   "The first time I've seen him (Spencer) is on T.V. I barely see that guy 
around here," he said.

   Another neighbor, Jose Gomez, said the congregation at his nearby Meeting 
With God Church was praying for Ebola as a world issue. He said he did not 
personally feel vulnerable.

   "I think that God will cover this community. But other people, 
psychologically it will create a big problem for them," he said.

   The epidemic in West Africa has killed about 4,800 people. In the United 
States, the first person diagnosed with the disease was a Liberian man, who 
fell ill days after arriving in Dallas and later died, becoming the only 
fatality. None of his relatives who had contact with him got sick. Two nurses 
who treated him were infected and are hospitalized. The family of one nurse 
said doctors no longer could detect Ebola in her as of Tuesday evening.

   According to a rough timeline provided by city officials, in the days before 
Spencer fell ill, he went on a 3-mile jog, went to the High Line park, rode the 
subway and, on Wednesday night, got a taxi to a Brooklyn bowling alley. He felt 
tired starting Tuesday, and felt worse on Thursday when he and his fiancee made 
a joint call to authorities to detail his symptoms and his travels. EMTs in 
full Ebola gear arrived and took him to Bellevue in an ambulance surrounded by 
police squad cars.

   Doctors Without Borders, an international humanitarian organization, said 
per the guidelines it provides its staff members on their return from Ebola 
assignments, "the individual engaged in regular health monitoring and reported 
this development immediately." Travelers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone 
must report in with health officials daily and take their temperature twice a 
day, as Spencer did. He also limited his direct contact with people, health 
officials said.

   Spencer, 33, works at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical 
Center. He had not seen any patients or been to the hospital since his return, 
the hospital said in a statement, calling him a "dedicated humanitarian" who 
"went to an area of medical crisis to help a desperately underserved 
population."

   Four American aid workers, including three doctors, were infected with Ebola 
while working in Africa and were transferred to the U.S. for treatment in 
recent months. All recovered. Health care workers are vulnerable because of 
close contact with patients when they are their sickest and most contagious.

   In West Africa this year, more than 440 health workers have contracted Ebola 
and about half have died. But the Ebola virus is not very hardy. The CDC says 
bleach and other hospital disinfectants kill it. Dried virus on surfaces 
survives only for several hours.

   Spencer is from Michigan and attended Wayne State University School of 
Medicine and Columbia's University Mailman School of Public Health.

   According to his Facebook page, he left for West Africa via Brussels last 
month. A photo shows him in full protective gear. He returned to Brussels Oct. 
16.

   "Off to Guinea with Doctors Without Borders," he wrote. "Please support 
organizations that are sending support or personnel to West Africa, and help 
combat one of the worst public health and humanitarian disasters in recent 
history."


(KA)


 
 
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