The Truth About Ebola

BY Mark Levine (@MarkLevineNYC)

Ebola - Harlem

Outside Dr. Spencer's apartment on West 147th Street (AP)

As you have likely heard, Dr. Craig Spencer, a member of our community who lives on West 147th Street, has been diagnosed with Ebola.  He is currently being treated in the isolation ward at Bellevue.  Three of his close relations have been quarantined but are currently healthy.  The Department of Health is actively working to trace other possible at-risk contacts Dr. Spencer may have had.

These developments are cause for concern–but not for panic.  A lot of misinformation is circulating about Ebola and how it spreads. Here are the facts:

  • Ebola is extremely difficult to contract, and the chances of the average New Yorker becoming infected are quite slim.
  • Ebola cannot be transmitted if the patient is not symptomatic.
  • Ebola is spread by directly touching the bodily fluids of an infected person–not by casual contact.
  • You cannot be infected simply by being near someone who has Ebola–the virus is not airborne.
  • There is no known case of Ebola being transmitted by contact with a surface touched by a person with the disease.

Officials do not believe Dr. Spencer was symptomatic until this morning. As a trained medical professional, he knew to call 911 as soon as he developed a fever. Regardless, you can ride the train without worry tomorrow knowing that Ebola is very different from the common cold: it’s nearly impossible to catch just by touching a subway pole.

The other good news is we couldn’t have been better prepared. City officials have been getting ready to respond to the virus for months and the execution of their established protocols has been flawless. I want to assure everyone in Northern Manhattan that City, State and Federal public health authorities have treated this with the highest possible level of urgency and marshaling every resource at their disposal to respond to this case. 

You can read more about how Ebola spreads and is transmitted here and here. For more information on Ebola prevention, or if you think you’ve come in contact with the virus, please call 311 immediately.

Don’t hesitate to use my office as a resource as well. Call us anytime at 212-928-6814. We promise to continue to keep you informed as this situation develops over the coming days.


Mark Levine

City Council Member, 7th District

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