Ashoka Mukpo Declared Ebola Free & Will Head Home To Rhode Island Wednesday
Two weeks after beginning treatment at the Nebraska Medical Center, NBC cameraman Ashoka Mukpo has been declared Ebola-free and will be returning home to Rhode Island on Wednesday. The freelancer took to Twitter to announce the good news, telling his followers, "Just got my results. 3 consecutive days negative. Ebola free and feeling so blessed. I fought and won, with lots of help. Amazing feeling." Mukpo's good news comes just 24 hours after 43 Texans who came into contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first US patient who died from the disease, were declared asymptomatic and taken off the watch list.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control confirmed a blood test that showed that the Ebola virus is no longer in Mukpo's blood stream, and gave him the green light to pack up his belongings and return home after an arduous two weeks. The 33-year-old first began showing symptoms of the disease just one day after he was hired to be Dr. Nancy Snyderman's cameraman in Monrovia, Liberia. Mukpo quarantined himself and was transported back to the United States shortly thereafter, where he has received a transfusion of Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly's blood as part of his treatment process.
Mukpo also tweeted that he felt very "lucky" to have defeated the disease, noting that many others who have contracted the deadly virus have not shared in his fate. The cameraman has been very active on Twitter for the majority of his ordeal, taking to the social media platform to send periodic reports on his health, as well as providing commentary on some of the controversy surrounding the disease.
Following the outrage that erupted after Dr. Snyderman was spotted out and about in Princeton, violating her quarantine along with a few other members of the Liberian crew, Mukpo jumped to her defense, assuring the public that it was nearly impossible for him to have transmitted the disease to the chief medical editor.
Even from a hospital bed, Mukpo has done more to assuage public concerns about Ebola than the CDC, the government, and the news media (guilty).
Despite his own happy developments, Mukpo tweeted that he remained concerned for the health of the two Dallas nurses who were infected with the virus while treating Duncan.
But in a pleasant turn of events, nurse Nina Pham may be closer to getting the same kind of news than Mukpo initially suspected, as her condition was upgraded earlier on Tuesday from "fair" to "good." The National Health Institute, where she is being treated, has remained tight-lipped on any further information about her treatment, but relayed Pham's message that she was grateful "for everyone's concerns and well wishes."
The second nurse, Amber Vinson, 29, is being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, and there is little available information about her status. Her mother, Debra Berry, told ABC News, "She is doing OK, just trying to get stronger," but said it was "difficult...to comprehend her daughter's situation."
While there is plenty of good news to be had in the United States, worldwide, the situation across the ocean remains dire. The global outbreak has infected over 9,000 people, and 4,500 of those patients have perished as a result. Improvements in drug therapies at home have managed to save seven of the eight patients' lives, but many of these drugs have not yet made their way to Africa, where they are most needed. And even as the United States works to create more biocontainment facilities, infrastructure and sanitation in Liberia remains shoddy at best, which has further contributed to its spread.
More humanitarian aid will be needed to ensure that Ebola is not only eradicated on American soil, but around the world as well. But with Mukpo and Pham's good news, we're certainly on the right track.
Images: unkyoka/Twitter; Getty Images