US Journalist Believes He Got Ebola While Cleaning Infected Car

Ashoka Mukpo is now being treated in Nebraska

ByABC News
October 6, 2014, 1:23 PM

— -- The American journalist with Ebola who arrived at a Nebraska hospital today believes that he may have gotten infected when he got splashed while spray-washing a vehicle where someone had died from the disease.

Ashoka Mukpo arrived at the Nebraska Medical Center this morning after being flown directly from Liberia.

“He's strong and his symptoms are not more advanced then when he talked to us before he left which is a relief,” his father Dr. Mitchell Levy said at a news conference today. He said his son has a fever and slight nausea.

"Likely he will go into the next phase where his symptoms will be more severe," Levy said.

Levy said that his son is “not certain” when he got the disease, but believes that he could have gotten infected by some of the spray back that came when he was using chlorine to disinfect a car.

"It was a vehicle that somebody had died in," Levy said.

Mukpo, 33, had been hired as a freelance cameraman by the NBC News crew earlier last week before testing positive for the disease on Thursday.

“He was around the [Ebola] clinic. He was filming inside the clinic,” Levy said.

Levy and his wife, Diana Mukpo, arrived in Omaha Sunday night ahead of their son’s arrival this morning, and they said that he appears to be in good spirits.

Mukpo had spent two years in Liberia working for an NGO before returning to the United States in May. When he told his parents that he felt compelled to return in September, they tried their best to dissuade him.

“I told him I thought he was crazy,” Levy said at the press conference held at the Nebraska Medical Center.

“And I begged him from a mother's perspective saying ‘Please don’t go.’ But there was nothing I could do. He was determined to go,” Diana Mukpo said.

Levy recalled his son's reaction being diagnosed with Ebola.

"His first reaction was I’m sorry I put myself in this situation for you guys... But I think, of course he’s of two minds. He has some regrets, but he’s still proud of what he’s doing and I’m sure he’ll go back to doing things just like this," Levy said.

Mukpo is the second American to be treated at the facility. The Nebraska hospital treated Dr. Richard Sacra last month after he also contracted the disease in Liberia.

The Nebraska Medical Center is one of only four biocontainment units throughout the United States. There is another unit at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland, one in Missoula, Montana, and a third at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, which is where Dr. Kent Brantley and nurse Nancy Writebol, the first two Americans to catch the disease, were treated.

Rosanna Morris, the chief nursing officer and chief operating officer at the Nebraska Medical Center, said that there will be two nurses with Mukpo at all times and they will be tasked with checking his temperature every hour or two, and running lab tests upwards of three times a day.

"We're really happy that his symptoms are not extreme yet," Levy said. "We're still in a process of discussing with his physicians and the team here what medications they're going to give him."

Mukpo's mother told ABC News affiliate WLNE-TV earlier that the family has been coordinating with the State Department.

According to his mother, Ashoka Mukpo had spent two years working for a Liberian NGO before returning to the United States earlier this summer.

Ashoka Mukpo contributed to reports for various news outlets before getting sick, but also shared emotional updates on his personal Facebook page.

"Man oh man I have seen some bad things in the last two weeks of my life," he wrote in one such post on Sept. 18, two weeks before testing positive for the disease. "How unpredictable and fraught with danger life can be. How in some parts of the world, basic levels of help and assistance that we take for granted completely don't exist for many people."