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Ebola-Stricken NBC News Freelancer Ashoka Mukpo Improving: Doctors

Ashoka Mukpo, a camera operator diagnosed with the disease in Liberia, is drinking Gatorade but is "not out of the woods" yet.

The NBC News freelancer infected with Ebola who got a blood transfusion from another virus survivor has "slightly improved," hospital officials said Friday. Doctors at Nebraska Medical Center are not ready to say Ashoka Mukpo is on the road to a full recovery, but his father said he's cautiously optimistic. "We definitely aren't out of the woods, but it's nice to see even a small amount of improvement," Dr. Mitchell Levy said in a statement.

Mukpo, who was diagnosed in Liberia while working as a camera operator for Dr. Nancy Snyderman's team, was flown to Nebraska on Oct. 6. He received the antiviral medication Brincidofovir and blood from Dr. Kent Brantly, the first American who was flown back to the U.S. after contracting the virus. "He's been taking in some fluids and drinking Gatorade. But everyone needs to be reminded that this is still a very serious illness we're dealing with and no one has a lot of experience treating it," said Dr. Phil Smith, the medical director for the biocontainment unit.

The "modest improvement" in Mukpo's condition comes two days after a Liberian man died of Ebola at a Texas hospital. Thomas Eric Duncan — who was mistakenly sent home from the hospital two days before his diagnosis — also received Brincidofovir, but his blood type made him ineligible for a transfusion that could have boosted his immune system. The current Ebola outbreak has killed more than 4,000 people in West Africa.


— Tracy Connor