Ebola outbreak: American cameraman covering epidemic in Liberia contracts the disease

He is fifth US citizen to contract Ebola, which has killed 3,300 people

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The Independent Online

An American cameraman working in Liberia has been infected with Ebola days after the first case of the deadly disease was diagnosed on US soil.

The man was working for NBC News on a freelance basis, raising concerns among journalists covering the outbreak in West Africa.

He is the fifth US citizen to have caught the disease – three have recovered and a doctor who contracted the virus in Sierra Leone is still receiving treatment.

The 33-year-old, who has worked in Liberia for three years, most recently covering the Ebola outbreak for US media outlets, will be flown back to the United States for treatment, NBC said.

He was working with a team of four other journalists in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, which has been subject to crackdowns by authorities trying to stop the spread of the disease.

His colleagues are not showing any symptoms but are also returning to the US to be quarantined as a precaution.

A spokesperson for NBC News said the cameraman came down with symptoms of Ebola, which are shared with many viruses, on Wednesday, feeling tired and achy.

Medical staff members with the corpse of a victim of Ebola in Monrovia

As part of a routine temperature check, he discovered he was running a slight fever and immediately quarantined himself and sought medical advice.

After visiting a treatment centre on Thursday, he tested positive hours later.

NBC’s chief medical editor Dr Nancy Snyderman – who he was working with – said he was in “good spirits”.

“The good news is this young man, our colleague, was admitted very, very early,” she told MSNBC.

Dr Snyderman said journalists in Liberia take their temperatures regularly to check for fever and take precautions including avoiding handshakes and hugs and washing their hands and feet with diluted bleach to lower the chances of catching the disease.

“Obviously zero risk means never coming to Liberia,” she added.

Ebola is spread by contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, whether directly or through soiled clothing or items they have touched.

Medical staff members burn clothes belonging to patients suffering from Ebola, at the French medical NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Monrovia

In a note to staff, Deborah Turness, President of NBC News, said the broadcaster was doing everything it could to get him the best  care possible.

“We are also taking all possible measures to protect our employees and the general public,” she added.

The cameraman’s father said doctors were “optimistic” about his prognosis.

He added that his son, who also is a writer, has been involved with human rights work in West Africa in recent years.

“When the Ebola outbreak occurred he felt compelled to return to Liberia to help shed light on how the crisis was being handled socially and politically,” he said.

Liberia has been hardest hit by the epidemic, seeing almost 2,000 of more than 3,300 deaths it has caused so far.

A Liberian national visiting family in Texas recently became the first Ebola patient to be diagnosed in the US last week.

He is currently being treated for Ebola at a hospital in Dallas as authorities quarantine anyone who had contact with him before he was put into isolation.

Additional reporting by Reuters