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New York Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola

  • VOA News

A woman reads an Ebola alert at Bellevue Hospital, where Dr. Craig Spencer is being treated for symptoms in New York Oct. 23, 2014.

A woman reads an Ebola alert at Bellevue Hospital, where Dr. Craig Spencer is being treated for symptoms in New York Oct. 23, 2014.

A New York City doctor who recently treated Ebola victims in Guinea has become the first person in the U.S. city to be diagnosed with the virus.

Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed the case at a news conference late Thursday, saying Dr. Craig Spencer has been placed in isolation and there is no cause for alarm.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, left, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo discuss the city's first confirmed Ebola case at a news conference at New York's Bellevue Hospital Oct. 23, 2014.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, left, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo discuss the city's first confirmed Ebola case at a news conference at New York's Bellevue Hospital Oct. 23, 2014.

"Ebola is an extremely hard disease to contract," de Blasio said. "... New Yorkers who have not been exposed to an infected person's bodily fluids are not at all at risk."

Earlier in the day, Spencer had notified the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, where he worked, that he had a high fever and was nauseous – two symptoms of Ebola.

Officials are looking for anyone who may have had contact with Spencer. He would be the fourth person diagnosed with Ebola on U.S. soil, and the first in New York.

Earlier Thursday, the West African nation of Mali reported its first case of Ebola, in what many warn could be another major setback to efforts to contain the disease.

Health Minister Ousmane Kone said on state television the patient is a 2-year-old girl who was brought to a hospital from neighboring Guinea. She had traveled with her grandmother, Kone said, adding, "It is possible that these two people arrived at a time when the symptoms were not detectable, but that the illness evolved."

The girl's condition is improving, thanks to quick treatment in the western town of Kayes, Kone said.

The Ebola outbreak – concentrated in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – has killed close to 4,900 people. There are almost 10,000 confirmed or probable cases.

EU secures $1.25 billion to fight Ebola

European Union leaders on Friday announced they have secured $1.25 billion to help fight the Ebola crisis in West Africa. The announcement followed a summit of EU member nations in Brussels on Thursday.

So far, there have only been scattered cases of Ebola reported in Europe and the U.S.

U.S. government health officials are ordering travelers from the three most-affected West African countries to monitor their health for 21 days and give local health departments daily reports.

The monitoring program starts Monday in six eastern states – Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia – where the majority of those travelers would visit. Each traveler will receive an Ebola kit, including a thermometer, upon arriving at airports.

Bellvue Hospital Center, New York City

Bellvue Hospital Center, New York City

In the latest case in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Spencer handled himself appropriately once he experienced symptoms.

Cuomo said the city is "as ready as one can be for this circumstance" and has been preparing for weeks to handle a possible Ebola case.

The White House said President Barack Obama spoke separately late Thursday with de Blasio and with Cuomo, assuring them both of "any additional federal support necessary."

Obama also noted "the extensive preparations that New York City and, in particular, Bellevue Hospital Center, where the patient is being treated, have undertaken to prepare for this contingency."

The earlier Ebola cases in the U.S. include a Liberian man who died in a Dallas, Texas hospital two weeks ago.

Doctors say a U.S. nurse diagnosed with Ebola after caring for a Liberian patient is now virus-free.

Nina Pham, a nurse at a Dallas, Texas hospital that treated the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., told reporters and supporters Friday that she is grateful for her recovery.

A fellow Dallas nurse, Amber Vinson was also announced to be virus-free, although she has not yet been discharged from care.

Watch video report from VOA's Zlatica Hoke:

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