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Parents say freelance American cameraman diagnosed with Ebola is in good spirits

10/03/2014 11:42 EDT | Updated 12/03/2014 05:59 EST
NEW YORK, N.Y. - The parents of an American freelance cameraman diagnosed with Ebola said Friday that their son was in good spirits.

"Obviously he is scared and worried," Dr. Mitchell Levy said of his son, Ashoka Mukpo, who was hired Tuesday to be the second cameraman in Liberia for NBC's chief medical editor and correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman.

Mukpo has been "seeing the death and tragedy and now it really hit home for him. But his spirits are better today," added Levy, who appeared on NBC's Today show with his wife, Diana Mukpo.

Their 33-year-old son was being treated in the Liberian capital of Monrovia and was scheduled to return to the United States during the weekend for treatment, his mother said.

"I think the enormous anxiety that I have as a mother or that we share as parents is the delay between now and him leaving on Sunday," she said, adding she hopes his symptoms do not worsen rapidly. The couple lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

Snyderman and her team also were returning to the U.S. and being placed in quarantine for 21 days "in an abundance of caution," NBC News President Deborah Turness said Thursday.

In a phone interview with "Today" on Friday, Snyderman said all the gear she and her crew used was being disinfected because they all shared work space and vehicles.

She believes she and her team were at a low risk because they have been "hyper-vigilant."

Mukpo has been working in Liberia for three years for Vice News and other media outlets.

Before the Ebola outbreak, he had been doing non-profit development work in Liberia, said Philip Marcelo, a Boston-based Associated Press reporter who met Ashoka Mukpo last year while on assignment in Liberia for The Providence Journal.

Marcelo said Mukpo was a researcher for the Sustainable Development Institute, a Liberia-based non-profit shining light on concerns of workers in mining camps outside Monrovia.

"He really was into the culture," Marcelo said. "He seemed to have a lot of passion for it."

ABC News said Levy issued a statement saying his son has been involved in human rights works in West Africa for the last several years and was aware of the risks. But he felt compelled to go back to Liberia when the Ebola crisis erupted.

"Doctors are optimistic about his prognosis," Levy said.

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