Like the Worst Flu You Ever Had: What Ebola Feels Like

Family of NBC News Freelancer Diagnosed With Ebola Speaks Out 3:12

Ashoka Mukpo, the NBC News freelance camera operator who’s being treated for Ebola at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, is able to talk but feels very nauseated, doctors said Tuesday.

Mukpo, who was evacuated from Liberia earlier this week, is stable but doesn’t feel like eating and throws up frequently, Dr. Philip Smith, medical director at the center and Dr. Angela Hewlett, associate medical director, told NBC News.

But he’s likely to feel worse before he gets better, said Smith and Hewlett, who both treated Dr. Rick Sacra, one of three Americans who have survived Ebola.

Ebola doesn’t look terribly frightening at first, Smith says. “It would look like he had a stomach flu or maybe food poisoning,” Hewlett said.

Patients have flu-like symptoms at first, said Smith. “And then they start getting internal involvement and symptoms get worse, fever gets higher, (they have) more complications,” he said.

“It’s like having the flu but the worst flu you have ever had.”

Mukpo is getting an experimental drug called brincidofovir. It’s made by North Carolina-based Chimerix and has been tested against several viruses, but never used against Ebola infection in people. Lab dish tests suggest the twice-a-week pill may help against Ebola, so Mukpo and the other current Ebola patient in the U.S., Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas, are getting it.

“It is a drug that has some promise,” Hewlett said. “It has been used here at the medical center for other diseases. … It stops the virus from replicating, from producing more copies of itself, and we are hoping it is able to work as well in the patient as it does in the laboratory.”


— Kate Snow and Maggie Fox