New York City doctor Craig Spencer is the fourth person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States and the first in New York. He recently came back from treating Ebola patients in West Africa, and preliminarily tested positive for the Ebola virus at Bellevue Hospital on Thursday, Oct. 23. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the following day that he had contracted the potentially deadly disease.
He was in stable condition as of Oct. 24 and talking on the phone with extensively with family members, officials said.
Spencer is the fifth U.S. aid worker to contract the virus while working in West Africa. Dr. Kent Brantly, who recovered from Ebola earlier this year, issued a statement saying he is "grieved to hear about another health care worker contracting Ebola in West Africa.
"My prayers are with Dr. Spencer, his family and the crew taking care of him," he said in a statement released to NBC's "Today." "From everything I've read and heard about his circumstances, it sounds like New York has done everything right to contain this case."
Here's what we know so far about Spencer, his background, what he has done since coming back to the U.S. and the people with whom he may have come into contact.
Who is Craig Spencer?
Spencer, 33, is an emergency room doctor at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital's Columbia Medical Center campus in Upper Manhattan. He is a Detroit native who went to Wayne State University there and has family in that area.
He attended Grosse Pointe North High School, where he played hockey and was a member of the National Honor Society, according to WDIV-TV in Detroit.
His former principal there said she wasn't surprised to learn was on a humanitarian mission for Doctors Without Borders.
"I remember his smile, his energy and his positivity," said Kate Calabresa Murray. "He was the type of student you didn't have to have had in class to know him, because he was such a selfless leader."
He was volunteering with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, one of the three West African nations experiencing an Ebola epidemic. His proficiency in the French language may have aided in his treatment in the French-speaking country. He hasn't returned to work at NewYork-Presbyterian since returning to the U.S., the hospital said in a statement.
Spencer "went to an area of medical crisis to help a desperately underserved population," the hospital said in a statement. "He is a committed and responsible physician who always put his patients first."
Spencer graduated from the Wayne State School of Medicine in Detroit in 2008 and received a master's in public health from Columbia's University Mailman School of Public Health. He is board-certified in emergency medicine.
"Off to Guinea with Doctors Without Borders,'' he reportedly posted on Facebook on Sept. 18, along with a photo showing him dressed in protective gear. "Please support organizations that are sending support or personnel to West Africa, and help combat one of the worst public health and humanitarian disasters in recent history.''
Spencer left for West Africa via Brussels in mid-September, according to the Facebook page. He completed his assignment there on Oct. 12 and left on Oct. 14 via Europe. He arrived in the U.S. on Oct. 17 at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
When Did Spencer Test Positive for Ebola?
Spencer participated in the enhanced screening at JFK for all travelers returning from the West African nations affected by Ebola. He did not have fever or other Ebola symptoms.
While back in New York, Spencer checked his temperature twice daily, New York City’s health commissioner Mary Travis Bassett said at a Thursday evening media briefing. He began feeling sluggish on Oct. 21, but did not have any symptoms then. He felt well enough to go on a three-mile jog this week.
On Thursday morning, between 10 and 11 a.m. ET, Spencer reported coming down with a 100.3-degree fever and diarrhea and called 911, New York's Department of Health said. Officials corrected the number Friday morning after having first said in error that his temperature was 103 degrees.
He was transported from his apartment on West 147th Street in Hamilton Heights to Bellevue, one of eight New York state hospitals designated to treat Ebola patients, by a specially trained HAZ TAC unit wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Spencer was placed in a special isolation unit at the hospital, where he's being cared for by the predesignated medical critical care team.
Doctors Without Borders said it was notified about Spencer's fever Thursday morning and immediately notified New York City health officials.
"We are fully prepared to handle Ebola," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday.
A blood sample was sent to the New York City Health Department laboratory, which is part of the Laboratory Response Network overseen by the CDC, for preliminary testing, and tested positive for Ebola. A CDC test confirmed he had contracted the disease.
What Has Spencer Done Since Returning From Africa?
Bassett said Spencer spent most of his time in his apartment, limiting his contact with people, but he had gone on a three-mile jog, taken the A, 1 and L subway trains, visited the High Line in Manhattan, stopped by the Blue Bottle coffee shop near the elevated park, and went to The Meatball Shop on Greenwich Avenue.
He also took an Uber livery car to The Gutter bowling alley in Brooklyn Wednesday night, where he met some friends and bowled.
"At the time he was at the bowling alley, he had no fever," Bassett stressed.
Who May Have Been Affected?
Health officials have been tracing Spencer's contacts to identify anyone who may be at risk. Bassett said officials were aware of four people who came in contact with Spencer: his fiancee, two friends, and the Uber driver.
The fiancee and friends who have been in direct contact with Spencer have been quarantined and are in good health, she said. They weren't yet being tested for Ebola because they were showing no symptoms, she said.
The Uber driver was determined not to be at risk because he had no direct physical contact with Spencer.
“Our understanding is that very few people were in direct contact with him," Mayor de Blasio said Thursday.
What Happens Next?
Spencer's apartment was cordoned off and the Department of Health was giving out information to area residents Thursday night. The bowling alley has been closed as a precaution, and will be examined Friday.
The Gutter said in a Facebook post Thursday that it had talked with health department officials, who determined that other bowlers weren't at risk for contracting the disease. They're cleaning the business as an extra precaution and will reopen afterward.
Officials have Spencer's MetroCard to track where he's traveled. They said there's a "close to nil" chance anyone was exposed on the subway.
"There is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed," de Blasio said. "We've been preparing for months for the threat of Ebola with clear and strong protocols that were scrupulously followed in this instance."
A specially trained team determined earlier this week that Bellevue Hospital has been trained in proper protocols and is well prepared to handle Ebola patients, the CDC said.
Several members of the CDC's rapid response team arrived in New York on Thursday night, and others arrived Friday morning.
President Obama spoke Thursday night to de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo and offered the federal government's support, The Associated Press reported. He asked them to stay in close touch with Ron Klain, his "Ebola czar," as well as public health officials in Washington.