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Parents of NBC News cameraman with Ebola: 'He's scared and worried'

Parents of NBC News cameraman with Ebola: 'He's scared and worried'
The burial team at the International Medical Corps Ebola treatment unit in Bong County, Liberia, sprays the grave of an Ebola victim with a chlorine disinfectant. (Robyn Dixon / Los Angeles Times)

The parents of Ashoka Mukpo, a freelance journalist who contracted Ebola while covering the devastating outbreak in Liberia for NBC News, appeared Friday morning on "Today."

Dr. Mitchell Levy told co-anchor Tamron Hall that his 33-year-old son was "scared and worried."

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"He's been filming what's been happening in Liberia and seeing the death and tragedy and it's really hitting home for him. But his spirits are better today."

Levy said he was encouraged that his son's symptoms remained mild and that his mood was "cheerful."

Mukpo will remain in the capitol city of Monrovia, where he is being treated by Doctors Without Borders, until Sunday, when he'll be flown back to the United States. His mother, Diane Mukpo, thanked the State Department for its assistance in transporting her son "as quickly as they can" but acknowledged the delay in his return is a source of "enormous anxiety."

"I really can only hope and pray that his symptoms don't worsen too quickly," she said.

According to Levy, Mukpo previously spent two years working in Liberia with a non-government organization and returned to the country recently to cover the epidemic. "I was obviously conflicted as a parent but really proud that he has the integrity and the desire to do something good," Levy said.

Mukpo was hired earlier this week as a second cameraman on a crew working with NBC News chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman in Monrovia. He came down with symptoms on Wednesday, and when it was discovered he was running a fever, he isolated himself. On Thursday morning, he checked into a Doctors Without Borders clinic, where he tested positive for the virus.

On Friday, Snyderman told "Today's" Matt Lauer that Mukpo is carrying a low viral amount and "should have a very good prognosis." She also said that he had been in the country for two weeks before that and speculated that he probably contracted the illness before he joined the NBC News team.

"We shared a work space. We shared vehicles. We shared equipment," said Snyderman, who is not symptomatic but will be flown back to the United States along with the rest of her team and will be in confinement for 21 days as a precautionary measure. "But everyone here is hyper-alert. We have not been in close proximity. No one shakes hands. There's no hugging."

Mukpo is the sixth American citizen to contract the illness (and upon his return will be the fifth U.S. national treated on American soil) in an outbreak that has killed more than 3,300 people across West Africa. He is the first member of the American news media known to come down with Ebola during the current epidemic, which so far has primarily impacted medical and aid workers.

Follow @MeredithBlake on Twitter.

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