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Ebola in New York City

2014-10-24

A physician who was in Guinea treating Ebola patients until October 14 reported a fever on Thursday morning and was hospitalized at Bellevue.  In the two or three days prior to feeling ill, he was travelling around New York by subway and cab, and even went bowlingccccc .  One story said that he “started feeling sluggish” on Tuesday but had no fever until Thursday morning.  His fiancee, who lived with him, was placed in quarantine at the same time.  A few other close contacts are being monitored, but it is not believed that his subway travels posed any risk.  The bowling alley likewise has not been scheduled for cleaning, although it may lose some patrons temporarily.

While the appearance of a fatal infectious disease in New York City might be cause for panic among the uninformed and hysterical, many serious infections have passed through the city without a breakdown in social order: tuberculosis, HIV, influenza (which could easily infect an entire subway car if one passenger started coughing), and typhoid, among others.  New Yorkers seem to take this type of risk into consideration without undue concern.  Those who are faint of heart tend to avoid New York anyway.

So far, the intensive monitoring and contact tracing that have proceeded after each Ebola patient appears have not yielded any new infections among casual contacts.  The two nurses who fell ill after treating the Dallas patient were exposed to large amounts of infectious body fluids and using an inadequate protection protocol that the CDC has since changed.  Without additional information, there seems no cause to panic over casual contact with patients who are not yet showing signs of disease.

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