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New York reported its first case of Ebola, a doctor who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea, while Mali’s health ministry on Thursday said the country had its first confirmed case after a two-year-old girl who had recently been in Guinea tested positive for the virus.

DOH issues advisory for Filipinos returning from virus-affected countries

by AFP & Charina Clarisse L. Echaluce
October 25, 2014

New York reported its first case of Ebola, a doctor who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea, while Mali’s health ministry on Thursday said the country had its first confirmed case after a two-year-old girl who had recently been in Guinea tested positive for the virus.

The 33-year-old doctor – identified by US media as Craig Spencer – has been placed in isolation, in what is the fourth case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States and the first outside Texas.

The patient arrived back in America’s largest city at JFK airport on October 17, travelling via Europe, after working with Ebola patients in West Africa for the charity Doctors Without Borders.

“Today testing confirmed that a patient here in New York City had tested positive for Ebola,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told a late night press conference at Bellevue Hospital Center.

According to Spencer’s CV on Linked In, he has been a fellow of international emergency medicine at Columbia University-New York Presbyterian Hospital for more than three years.

Officials said he monitored his temperature twice a day and attempted to self-isolate, only displaying symptoms on Thursday, a day after taking two subway trains to Brooklyn to go bowling.

The bowling alley in Williamsburg has since closed as a precaution.

New York City health department detectives have been tracing his movements and officials stressed there was no cause for alarm in the dense city of 8.4 million residents.

His fianceé and two friends, with whom he has been in close contact, are healthy and being quarantined, New York City health commissioner Mary Bassett told the news conference.

One of them was at the Bellevue on Thursday, officials said. Bassett stressed that none of them are displaying any symptoms and said there was no need to test them for Ebola.

A fourth person, the driver of an Uber taxi, had no direct physical contact with the patient and is not considered at risk.

But city officials were forced on the defensive over a slew of questions about Spencer’s movements in the 48 hours before he displayed symptoms, but after he started feeling tired.

At some point, he went for a three-mile jog.

On Wednesday he not only took the subway to Brooklyn to go bowling, but visited the High Line, a popular elevated public park in Chelsea, and may have also gone to a restaurant, Bassett said.


In Mali, the child and those she has come into contact with have been put in isolation.

The identity of the infected girl was not released.

Health ministry spokesman Markatche Daou told AFP that she had travelled to neighboring Guinea with her grandmother and that the authorities were aware of her itinerary.

The ministry said the girl had visited Kissidougou, a town in the southern part of Guinea where the Ebola outbreak was first identified in December, 2013.

“Everyone who had contact with the girl is under medical surveillance,” he said.

The west African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have borne the brunt of the deadly Ebola virus.

According to World Health Organization figures 10,000 people have been infected and almost 4,900 have died of the disease in west Africa.

Mali’s health ministry said all necessary steps had been taken to avoid the spread of Ebola, and called on residents to remain calm.

However, it warned against all unnecessary travel to affected areas and urged hygiene and safety measures to be respected.


With Ebola slowly spreading outside Africa, the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) issued an advisory to Filipinos returning from Ebola-affected countries in an effort to prevent the spread of the deadly virus in the country.

Based on records of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the countries with “widespread transmission” of Ebola virus are still Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

For Filipinos in Ebola-affected countries, they should:

• Avoid areas declared to have the virus.

• Avoid crowded places.

• Avoid eating raw wild meat

• Maintain proper hand hygiene

For health workers, they should follow the DOH “5 Moments for Hand Hygiene” or clean hands properly:

• Before touching a patient.

• Before any task.

• After body fluid exposure risk.

• After having contact with a patient.

• After having contact with patient’s surrounding.

At any airport, the traveler should:

• Avoid physical contact with anyone who is displaying symptoms of Ebola – such as fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat, followed by vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding.

• Avoid touching the body of a person who has died due to the virus.

• Use alcohol rub throughout the day.

• Use soap and water when hands are visibly dirty.

• If one has Ebola symptoms, he should immediately seek medical attention.

While travelling back to the country:

• One must alert the airline personnel about a fellow traveler who has symptoms of Ebola.

• One must also inform the online personnel if he personally develops the symptoms.

Upon return from countries with Ebola:

• One should inform the on-duty quarantine medical officer at the airport/seaport if he has fever or have flu-like symptoms.

The advisory stressed the importance of putting the right information on the health checklist as it is a way of protecting themselves, not only their loved ones, from the virus.

“Be honest when filling up the heath checklist and reporting symptoms. If you do not report to the authorities, you are endangering not only your family and loved ones, but also yourselves,” DOH said.

The returnee should also monitor his health, especially his temperature, for at least 21 days. If he develops fever or have influenza-like symptoms during the incubation period, he must immediately consult a doctor and inform the latter about history of the recent travel.


Back in the US, two nurses in Texas were diagnosed with Ebola after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian citizen who died of the disease, but who was initially sent home from hospital in Dallas.

The New York patient had no fever, diarrhea, vomiting or loss of blood on the subway that would make him contagious, Bassett said.

“It is extremely unlikely, a probability close to nil that there would be any problem with him taking the subway system,” she added.

Officials stressed that the disease, which has killed nearly 4,900 people in West Africa, is transmitted only through contact with an infected person’s blood or other bodily fluids.

De Blasio said there was “no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed. Ebola is an extremely hard disease to contract.”

Officials said the New York doctor completed his work in Guinea on October 12 and left the West African country on October 14 via Europe.

Bassett said he wore full protective gear and was not aware of any breach while working at the Ebola treatment center in Guinea.

Officials also sought to allay any alarm of the disease spreading among health workers treating him at Bellevue or among the first responders who transferred him from his home in West Harlem.

“He had a very orderly removal from his home and with emergency workers who were in full protective gear,” she said.

He is on an isolation ward in intensive care where he is being treated by “experienced, seasoned health workers who all have been training for this purpose over the last months,” she added.

His apartment is “locked and not accessible,” she said.

Bellevue is one of eight in the state of New York equipped to handle patients diagnosed with Ebola.


In August Senegal also registered a confirmed Ebola case, imported from Guinea. That case did not spread and last week Senegal was declared Ebola-free.

International alarm has been stoked by cases beyond Africa.

Spain has seen one non-fatal infection, a nurse who caught Ebola from a patient she cared for — a missionary who died of the disease after returning from Liberia.



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