A doctor in New York City who recently returned from West Africa was rushed to Bellevue Hospital on Thursday and placed in isolation while doctors await the return of tests to determine whether he has the Ebola virus.
While the results of the tests will not be known until late Thursday, the health authorities are concerned enough about the possibility that he has the virus that they have started to identify and contact anyone who might have come into contact with the man, identified by city officials as Dr. Craig Spencer.
“The health department’s team of disease detectives immediately began to actively trace all of the patient’s contacts to identify anyone who may be at potential risk,” a statement released by the department said.
Health authorities declined to say how many people that might be. Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking at a press conference Thursday evening, said Dr. Spencer has given health workers a detailed accounting of his activities over the last few days.
“Our understanding is that very few people were in direct contact with him,” Mr. de Blasio said.
Dr. Spencer had been working with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, treating Ebola patients, before returning to New York City on Oct. 14, according to a city official.
He told the authorities that he did not believe the protective gear he wore while working with Ebola patients had been breached.
“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,” a statement from Doctors Without Borders said.
Dr. Spencer began to feel sluggish on Tuesday but did not develop a fever until Thursday morning, he told the authorities. At 11 a.m., the doctor found that he had a 103-degree temperature and alerted the staff of Doctors Without Borders, according to the official.
The staff of Doctors Without Borders called the city’s health department, which in turn called the Fire Department.