Ebola Update

There was news yesterday that a doctor in New York tested positive for Ebola:

A doctor in New York City who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea became the first person in the city to test positive for the virus Thursday, setting off a search for anyone who might have come into contact with him.

The doctor, Craig Spencer, was rushed to Bellevue Hospital Center and placed in isolation at the same time as investigators sought to retrace every step he had taken over the past several days.

At least three people he had contact with in recent days have been placed in isolation. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which dispatched a team to New York, is conducting its own test to confirm the positive test on Thursday, which was performed by a city lab.

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Dr. Spencer, 33, had traveled on the A and L subway lines Wednesday night, visited a bowling alley in Williamsburg, and then took a taxi back to Manhattan.

Naturally, this caused a lot of freaking out, especially from the Fox News people.  But one needs to consider the following:

1. According to reports, the doctor reported his condition as soon as he exhibited symptoms. The New York Times reports that Spencer “did not develop a fever until Thursday morning.” He then immediately reported his symptoms and was transported to the hospital by emergency medical workers in protective gear. People with Ebola “cannot spread the disease until they begin to display symptoms.”

2. Spencer’s subway ride on Wednesday night was highly unlikely to pose a danger to fellow travelers. Spencer did ride the New York City Subway on Wednesday night to go bowling. But he was not displaying symptoms at the time. Except in the very sickest patients, the virus is primary “spread through blood, feces and vomit.” As a result, Ebola is “extremely unlikely to spread through public transit.” There has been no documented case of “transmission to a human from a dry surface” like a subway pole. The disease is not airborn.

3. New York City hospitals are prepared. Various hospitals in New York City have been drilling to screen for potential cases of Ebola. Bellevue, where Spencer was transported, was designated to receive suspected or confirmed Ebola cases. Staff is equipped with “Tyvek gowns, a white bodysuit that is impervious to fluids” and other protective gear. Spencer is being treated in one of four isolation rooms. There is also “a separate laboratory in the infectious disease ward to handle Ebola blood samples, so they will not have to be transported around the hospital.”

In other words, the system worked.  The doctor’s self-monitoring worked.  He did what he was supposed to do.

In related Ebola news, one of the nurses who contracted Ebola (from the Dallas patient) here in the United States has been cleared to go home.

UPDATE: Said nurse just got hugged by Obama.  Analysts at Fox News aren’t sure whether to criticize Obama for NOT fearing a healthy woman, or to celebrate his impending Ebola death.

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What do you think?