First U.S. Ebola Patient 'Fighting for His Life'; Second Infected Victim Arrives in Nebraska

( [email protected] ) Oct 06, 2014 11:37 AM EDT
Ashoka Mukpo, a freelance cameraman working for NBC, is the fifth American to be diagnosed with Ebola. (Photo: NBC News)

The first confirmed Ebola patient in the United States continues to fight for his life, the director of the Centers for Disease Control said Sunday, as a second patient arrives in the country.

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden told reporters Sunday that Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian citizen, is "quite critical," and that his situation "has taken a turn for the worse."

However, Frieden added that public health officials are confident in their ability to contain the disease from spreading, and that cases will likely be isolated in America.

"It's not going to spread widely in the U.S. for two basic reasons. We can do infection control in hospitals and we can do public health interventions that stop it in its tracks," he said.

On Monday, freelance cameraman Ashoka Mukpo, 33,-- who contracted it while covering the outbreak's carnage --also arrived for Ebola treatment in isolation at Nebraska Medical Center. Mukpo was diagnosed on Thursday in Liberia and left there on a specially-equipped plane on Sunday.

He was hired Tuesday to be a second cameraman for NBC News Chief Medical Editor and Correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman, and tested positive for Ebola on Thursday. Snyderman, who spoke with Mukpo on the phone Saturday morning, said he was in "great spirits" - and in a positive sign, she said, he was eating and drinking on his own.

Currently, 80 people people who may have had contact with Duncan before he was diagnosed are being closely monitored by health officials. It was also announced this weekend that officials had located a homeless man who may be infected after riding in the ambulance used to take Duncan to the hospital.

According to the New York Times, Duncan will likely face severe legal repercussions if he survives the Ebola virus. Liberia has already announced plans to prosecute him for lying on his exit visa, and the Dallas County DA said the office is currently debating whether to charge him with some sort of aggravated assault charge.

"We are actively having discussions as to whether or not we need to look into this as it relates to a criminal matter," said Dallas County's district attorney, Craig Watkins.

"We're working with all the different agencies to get to the bottom of it."

His spokeswoman said prosecutors had previously filed aggravated assault charges against people who were H.I.V. positive and knowingly had unprotected sex with others; and it was possible the same charge may apply in Mr. Duncan's case, reports the Times.

In Liberia and other West African countries, the outbreak has killed more than 3,400 people. Battling the disease will be a "long, hard fight," Frieden said.

"The virus is spreading so fast that it's hard to keep up."