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New York quarantines 3 people in contact with Ebola-carrying doctor

After Dr. Craig Spencer tested positive for Ebola on Thursday, New York City quarantined his fiancée and two friends, city health commissioner Mary Bassett said, adding that none of the three is exhibiting any symptoms. Spencer, a member of Doctors Without Borders, returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea a week ago. He is now in an isolation unit at New York City's Bellevue Hospital, where he was taken by hazmat-suited EMTs in a police-escorted ambulance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has dispatched a team to New York, and public health officials say that Spencer acted responsibly — he kept his contact with the public minimal and took his temperature twice a day. The chance that he spread Ebola on his subway rides is "close to nil," Bassett said, and the Brooklyn bowling alley he visited Wednesday evening has been closed as a precaution — though The New York Times assures us that "it is extremely unlikely that Ebola could be passed" via "the surface of a shared bowling ball."

If someone left blood, vomit, or feces on a bowling ball, and the next person to touch it did not even notice, and then put his fingers into his eyes, nose, or mouth, it might be possible. But, the Ebola virus does not not normally build up to high levels in saliva or mucus until very late in the disease — several days after the initial fever sets in — and it is unlikely that someone that ill would have just gone bowling. Also, the Ebola virus is fragile and susceptible to drying out. It does not normally survive for more than a few hours on a hard, dry surface. [New York Times]

Now you know.