Ebola transmission facts state that people may actually be able to contract the virus by coming into contact with items that someone who is symptomatic with the Ebola virus has previously touched. This information has been published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A doctor who had just returned home to New York City from Africa has been positively diagnosed the Ebola virus which he contracted while treating infected patients in the African country of Guinea. He had been in Guinea recently, treating those patients as part of a Doctors Without Borders initiative to stem the spread of the deadly disease. He moved freely around NYC after returning from Africa in the days before being diagnosed with the disease, and whether or not he left an Ebola footprint at places he visited the night before becoming symptomatic is at issue.
Dr. Craig Spencer returned home to NYC from Guinea on Friday, Oct. 17. He left Guinea on Oct. 14 and flew to NYC three days later, after a stopover in Brussels, Belgium. Spencer had been made aware of Doctors Without Borders through his job as an attending physician at New York’s Columbia-Presbyterian University Hospital Medical Center in Manhattan.
Upon his arrival in the U.S., Dr. Spencer was treated as any other person coming to the U.S. from West Africa, and was appropriately screened, reporting no symptoms of the Ebola virus, nor were any displayed at that time. As a medical professional, Spencer was expected to self-monitor himself for a period of 21 days following his return from Guéckédou, Guinea. Although he had recorded no increased temperature or fever for the first four days following his return, he does remember feeling sluggish and fatigued on Tuesday, Oct. 21. Still, he did not have a fever, and chose to continue to live his life as any person normally would, not knowing if he had contracted Ebola.
The city of Guéckédou, Guinea, is located on the border of Guinea and Liberia. Doctors Without Borders volunteers have been working relentlessly in this region of West Africa to help eradicate the virus.
On Wednesday, Spencer returned to his daily workout regimen, running 3 miles around Riverside Park in Manhattan. Later that evening he took three different subway lines on his way to a bowling alley in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. While at the bowling alley, Spencer may have left bodily fluids such as sweat on the bowling ball he used, potentially allowing the Ebola virus to be contracted by anyone using this bowling ball afterwards, or any other item he may have come into contact with.
Spencer became symptomatic the next morning, reporting a fever of 100.3 degrees. He was transported by special ambulance and admitted to Bellevue Hospital in midtown Manhattan, where he has been quarantined and remains in isolation. His use of public transportation and subsequent appearance at the bowling alley on Wednesday is causing people to question whether anyone who he had contact with on the subway or at the bowling alley has any reason to worry about the Ebola virus being transmitted to them via anything Dr. Spencer may have come into contact with.
It is unknown if the Ebola virus can be contracted by anyone from the residual finger sweat from an infected person that may remained in the holes of a bowling ball, or from any of the other items Spencer may have touched. The CDC informs people to avoid bodily fluids of anyone infected with the Ebola virus. Furthermore it advises that people may contract the disease if they come into contact with any items that may have been touched by someone infected with the Ebola virus who is symptomatic.
By Jim Donahue