People are inured to “possible Ebola case” stories at this point because of how many silly false alarms there have been over the past few weeks. Every time a passenger gets sick on a trans-Atlantic flight, local media starts breathing into a paper bag.
This one looks legit, though. The doctor was in Guinea, an Ebola hot spot, treating patients just 10 days ago, within the 21-day incubation period. He’s reportedly running a high fever of 103. And he himself is sufficiently alarmed by his symptoms that he’s been holed up in his apartment in Harlem.
Preliminary results of tests done on the doctor, identified by sources as Craig Spencer, are expected later Wednesday, the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said in a statement.
Spencer, who was one of the medics working in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders, had been back for 10 days and quarantined himself after developing nausea and a high fever, sources said.
Around noon, FDNY hazardous materials specialists sealed-off Spencer’s apartment on W. 147th St. and removed the doctor — clad in a protective suit.
While Spencer was placed in quarantine at Bellevue, city health workers were trying to track down anybody he might have been in contact with since returning home from Africa.
Uh, how long was he in “self-quarantine”? You would think he’d have called the CDC and NYC Department of Health the moment he began feeling sick and let them know there’s a guy in Manhattan who’s at high risk of having contracted Ebola recently and who, by the way, is also starting to show symptoms. Frankly, I don’t understand why health workers back from the hot zone aren’t in quarantine for three weeks as a precaution.
Surely, though, knowing the risks better than most, this highly trained physician had kept away from other people since he returned so as not to expose the country’s biggest city to a freakishly dangerous disease. Right?
BREAKING: Possible NYC #Ebola didn't self-quarantine; took an über to Williamsburg bowling alley yesterday; now has fever/pain/nausea
— Vaughn Sterling (@vplus) October 23, 2014
Here’s where you can make your own tacky joke about hipsters having had Ebola before having Ebola became cool or whatever. The doctor also spent some time with his girlfriend this week, per CNN, and now she’s at risk. All of which is to say, if you’ve been worried lately that members of America’s medical establishment have been underestimating the risks of Ebola, you should definitely continue to worry.
Exit question: If he’s infected, did they detect the disease early enough here to treat him effectively? No way to answer that now, obviously, since we’re not sure when precisely he might have picked it up in Guinea — at a minimum it was 10 days ago — but it’s worth looking at the timeline for Thomas Duncan and the two nurses in Texas. Duncan seems to have contracted it on September 15th, began showing symptoms nine days later, and was finally hospitalized on September 28th, four days after that. He died, of course. Nina Pham treated Duncan starting on or around the 28th and began showing mild symptoms 12 days later. She was hospitalized the next day and appears to be on the mend. Amber Vinson also began treating Duncan on or around the 28th and began showing mild symptoms 15 days later. She was hospitalized that same day and has now recovered. It may be that speedy hospitalization after symptoms begin is the key to beating the disease. Duncan didn’t have that; the nurses did. How about Craig Spencer? Given that he was bowling yesterday, it sounds like he might have began feeling sick only just this morning. But his symptoms also don’t sound mild. A 103-degree fever is not to be trifled with. Hmmmm.