Ashoka Mukpo is the NBC cameraman who contracted Ebola while covering the outbreak in Liberia. He was recently declared Ebola-free, after undergoing treatment at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. This evening, Mukpo had some insightful thoughts that he posted on Twitter, about how to think about this newest case in New York City, involving Dr. Craig Spencer.
Spencer had been in Guinea, working with Doctors Without Borders to treat Ebola patients. He has come under some fire for moving about New York City after returning from West Africa. How could he go bowling, many asked, when he had returned from Guinea just 8 days earlier?
Mukpo had a much different take:
There are two points that Mukpo makes that resonate. First, catching Ebola is difficult. Really difficult. Thomas Duncan, the Liberian patient who ultimately died of Ebola in Dallas, lived with family members while he was feverish and sweating. None of those who cared for him at the time became infected. Approximately two hours passed between when Spencer notified officials of his fever, and he was in transport to an isolation unit at Bellevue Hospital.
Prior to Thursday morning, Spencer had no symptoms, not when he took the subway and not when he went to a bowling alley. At that point, the best science we have tells us he was not contagious.
Mukpo also calls for some empathy: Spencer was a doctor who decided, voluntarily, to go to Guinea to treat Ebola patients. This is a country that desperately needs more doctors to fight back an epidemic. The United States has 245.2 doctors per 100,000 people. Guinea has 10.
Spencer is not part of the problem. From what we know, he did not put New Yorkers at risk for Ebola. He's part of the solution, one of a small handful of doctors who worked to combat a deadly, overwhelming disease.