In a city of more than 8 million with a sprawling mass transit system and large number of commuters, health authorities are learning quickly that tracing the contacts of New York City's first Ebola case poses a myriad of logistical challenges, reported the New York Times.
This challenge became apparent when doctors diagnosed Craig Spencer with Ebola on Thursday. Following the diagnosis, doctors immediately place him and isolation and began the meticulous process of trying to retrace his every last step.
Spencer was able to recall in detail his movements over the previous three days-- over the course of the time when he began to fall ill. However, doctors are authorities with the process of nailing down precisely who he came in contact with and responding to a disease that is transmitted only through direct exposure to bodily fluids.
Health authorities had to isolate not just Spencer, but also, his fiancée and two friends who had been with him in the two days before he arrived at the hospital, because he said he had started feeling sluggish on Tuesday.
So now, that's four people in isolation. Does that mean they must retrace the steps of those four, and so on... and so forth?
Currently, Spencer has been isolated in a seventh-floor ward at Bellevue, the city's main public hospital, that was specially designed to treat highly infectious tuberculosis patients, reported the paper.
The unit is locked and guarded, with rooms where health care workers can be decontaminated and cameras can monitor patients remotely.