Ebola Panic in New Jersey

Nancy Snyderman, MD, a medical editor for NBC news is under a New Jersey State Department of Health quarantine after www.PlanetPrinceton.com reported that she was violating an agreement to stay at home. Snyderman, a Princeton, NJ resident, may have been exposed to Ebola during a trip to Liberia. Celebrity watching in Princeton, NJ is usually a low-key affair. Not this time, Snyderman learned.

Nancy Snyderman, MD, a medical editor for NBC news is under a New Jersey State Department of Health quarantine order through Oct. 22, after www.PlanetPrinceton.com reported that she was violating an agreement to stay at home. Snyderman, a Princeton, NJ resident, may have been exposed to Ebola during a trip to Liberia.

Celebrity watching in Princeton, NJ is usually a low-key affair. Actors Russsell Crowe, Princeton University alumna Brooke Shields, and former Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands are among the boldface names who’ve visited the town without creating much fuss.

But after some residents noticed Snyderman seemed to be out and about—not staying home to make sure she hadn’t caught Ebola--the news went viral.

As a result, the Princeton Health Department and the New Jersey Department of Health were apparently pressured into putting Snyderman under the quarantine order.

One member of Snyderman’s news crew, camera man Ashoka Mukpo, contracted the virus and remains hospitalized in Omaha, NE. He became ill Oct. 1.

After learning of his illness, NBC said it had consulted with NJ health officials and that the other crew members, including Snyderman, had agreed to be in voluntary isolation for 21 days.

But on Oct. 11, after days of Snyderman sightings had been posted--such as “Snyderman was seen sitting in her car outside of the Peasant Grill in Hopewell Borough”-- the state and the Princeton health department announced Snyderman and two cameramen were officially quarantined, an order being enforced by the local police department.

“Unfortunately, the NBC crew violated this [isolation] agreement and so the Department of Health today issued a mandatory quarantine order to ensure that the crew will remain confined until Oct. 22,” a department spokeswoman said.

The quarantine order came two days before national concerns about the possible spread of Ebola rose with the news that a nurse in Dallas, TX who cared for victim Thomas Eric Duncan had herself become ill.

Also on Oct. 11, under an agreement with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, passengers arriving from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia at Newark Liberty International Airport, as well as at JFK in NY, Dulles in Washington, O’Hare in Chicago, and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, are being subjected to body-temperature screening and questionnaires. There are no direct flights from those countries and most passengers destined for the US come by way of Europe.