MIDTOWN — A doctor who recently returned from West Africa, where thousands have been stricken with Ebola, was quarantied at Bellevue Hospital Thursday evening to be tested for the deadly virus, officials said.
Dr. Craig Spencer, of West Harlem, returned to New York from Guinea within the past 21 days, the period during which for symptoms from the virus normally appear, and is now suffering from a 103-degree fever and gastrointestinal problems.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said it would not be known until late into Thursday night whether test results would show if Spencer had Ebola.
Health officials also were trying to track Spencer's movements in recent days as well as find those with whom he may have come into contact. Despite news reports saying Spencer visited a Brooklyn bowling alley Wednesday night, de Blasio cautioned that Spencer had come into direct contact with "very few" people
Spencer, who is listed on his LinkedIn page as a fellow of international Emergency Medicine at New York-Presbyterian, had been serving with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea.
A recent blog post from The Program on Force Migration and Health at Columbia University indicated that Spencer had been working on Ebola while he was in that country.
Spencer lives on West 147th Street with his fiancee, whose name DNAinfo is withholding, and the pair plan to marry next September in Detroit.
Reached by phone, Spencer's finacée declined comment. Staff at Bellevue Hospital's emergency room said a person who shared her name was a patient there, without providing additional information.
Tim Shenk, a spokesman for Doctors Without Borders, said the group received a call Thursday morning from the possible Ebola patient — whom sources identified to DNAinfo New York was Spencer — saying that he had "developed a fever."
Since his return from Guinea, Spencer had been following the agency's guidelines and was closely monitoring his health and reported the "development immediately," said Shenk.
"While at this stage there is no confirmation that the individual has contracted Ebola, Doctors Without Borders, in the interest of public safety and in accordance with its protocols, immediately notified the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which is directly managing the individual’s care," Shenk said.
Fire officials said they received a call from Spencer's West Harlem address at 11:52 a.m. Thursday. He was rushed to Bellevue by a specially trained ambulance unit wearing protective gear with the help of a police escort.
Hospital officials cautioned that Spencer's symptoms were also consistent with the stomach flu, malaria and other illnesses.
Sam Miller, associate commissioner for the Health Department, said outside Spencer's apartment building that the doctor's apartment was "sealed off."
According to a statement from New York-Presbyterian, Spencer has not been at work or seen patients since he returned from overseas.
"The physician is a dedicated humanitarian on the staff of NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center who went to an area of medical crisis to help a desperately underserved population," the statement read. "He is a committed and responsible physician who always puts his patients first."
On Spencer's block, City Councilman Mark Levine handed out literature about Ebola and ways to prevent its spread.
"People are scared," Levine said. "People hear the word Ebola in their neighborhood and they are afraid."
Spencer's neighbor, John Roston, 38, a computer repairman, said he saw the doctor regularly.
"I see him all the time wearing scrubs," said Roston. "He lives in the hospital."
Spencer's wedding website says he met his future bride in China and that the pair traveled the world before moving to New York.
"Craig's friends say he's a goofball, incredible gifted in both art, music and science, and a go-getter," the website read.
De Blasio said that if Spencer ends up diagnosed with Ebola, it was likely that it had been caught early.
"When a case is caught early, a great deal can be done to resolve it," de Blasio said.
In addition to only having possible Ebola symptoms for a "brief period of time," de Blasio said that 'very few people were in direct contact with" Spencer.
"The patient is in good shape and has gone into a great deal of detail with our personnel about his actions over the last few days," de Blasio said.
Bellevue is equipped with a special isolation unit to deal with infectious diseases such as Ebola.
It is one of four hospitals in the city designated by the state last week to deal with any Ebola outbreaks.
De Blasio said that weeks of preparation by Bellevue had paid off when they were called into action Thursday. He said all of the protocols had been "followed very precisely."
No one in New York has been diagnosed with the disease to date. Thomas Eric Duncan, a 42-year-old Texan, contracted Ebola in Liberia and died in Dallas two weeks ago. Two nurses who treated him also contracted the virus.
Health officials called for calm. Individuals must come into contact with an infected person's bodily fluids to contract the virus.
"The chances of the average New Yorker contracting Ebola are extremely slim," Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said in a statement. "Ebola is spread by directly touching the bodily fluids of an infected person. You cannot be infected simply by being near someone who has Ebola."
Murray Weiss, Jim Fanelli and Ben Fractenberg contributed reporting.