A woman who returned from West Africa 18 days ago died suddenly in a Brooklyn hair salon yesterday, sparking fears that the cause of death was Ebola-related. Police cordoned off the area around the African Queen Hair Braiding establishment at 32 Belmont Avenue in Brownsville as a Hazmat unit responded to the scene yesterday afternoon.
The Health Department says the 40-year-old woman, who has not been identified, had no symptoms of Ebola and died from an apparent heart attack. But due to her travel history, a blood sample was tested for Ebola. It came back negative. (Health officials told CBS 2 she had recently returned from Guinea.)
The Health Department is currently tracking almost 300 people who have recently returned from West Africa, and a Health Department spokesperson told Gothamist that the woman who died yesterday was among those being monitored. Asked about yesterday's cautious response, an FDNY spokesman told the Times, "You have a well-traveled area of Brooklyn with a beauty salon that is well-traveled, and we’re taking precautionary steps that if, in fact, this turns out to be a positive case, that we’re in front of it."
The only individual with confirmed Ebola in NYC was Dr. Craig Spencer, who was released from Bellevue last week.