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NBC News freelance journalist tests positive for Ebola

Updated at 10:40 a.m. EDT | An American freelance cameraman working in Liberia for NBC News has contracted the Ebola virus and is being flown to the U.S. for treatment, the news network announced Thursday night.

Parents of the freelancer, identified as Ashoka Mukpo, told NBC’s “Today” on Friday that their son’s “scared and worried,” Dr. Mitchell Levy, Mukpo’s father, said. “He’s been filming what’s happening in Liberia for two weeks, seeing the death tragedy and now it’s really hit home for him.”

Having talked to him this morning, Mukpo’s parents said “his spirits are better today.”

In a letter to staff, NBC News President Deborah Turness said the 33-year-old freelancer had been working in Liberia for three years and joined the NBC News team Tuesday to help cover the Ebola outbreak in Monrovia.

Feeling sick and running a fever, Mukpo quarantined himself until he was tested for Ebola on Thursday at a Medecins Sans Frontieres treatment center. The tests came back positive 12 hours later, NBC reported.

The NBC news team, including Chief Medical Editor and Correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman, has shown no symptoms of the virus, but will be flown back to the U.S. to be quarantined and closely monitored for 21 days — the incubation period for Ebola.

Mukpo is the fourth American to be diagnosed with the deadly virus. Earlier this week, Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with the first case of Ebola in the U.S. and is currently being treated at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

Turness’ full letter to the staff is below:


As you know, Dr. Nancy Snyderman and our news team are in Liberia covering the Ebola outbreak. One of the members of their crew is an American freelance cameraman who has worked in Liberia for the past three years and has recently been covering the epidemic for US media outlets. On Tuesday he began working with our team. Today, he tested positive for Ebola.

We are doing everything we can to get him the best care possible. He will be flown back to the United States for treatment at a medical center that is equipped to handle Ebola patients. We are consulting with the CDC, Medicins Sans Frontieres and others. And we are working with Dr. Nancy on the ground in Liberia.

We are also taking all possible measures to protect our employees and the general public. The rest of the crew, including Dr. Nancy, are being closely monitored and show no symptoms or warning signs. However, in an abundance of caution, we will fly them back on a private charter flight and then they will place themselves under quarantine in the United States for 21 days – which is at the most conservative end of the spectrum of medical guidance.

We know you share our concern for our colleagues and we will continue to keep you up to date and informed. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or David Verdi with any questions.


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