By Charlotte Huffman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Questions are being raised about how NBC cameraman, Ashoka Mukpo got Ebola.

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Mukpo was working with NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine, where she currently consults with specialists.

Dr. Neil Fishman, infectious disease doctor at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, points out that Ebola is only contagious if the infected person is experiencing active symptoms and it is not transmitted through the air or casual contact.

“You’re not going to contract Ebola by shaking hands, certainly not by sitting next to someone. It is not transmitted like a respiratory tract infection,” said Dr. Fishman.

Instead, he says the bacteria from a contagious person has to get into your bloodstream which can happen if it is ingested or if your skin is exposed to a significant amount of bodily fluids from an infected person. For example, if you are splattered with blood.

Mukpo’s mother says he thinks he could’ve gotten the virus through skin exposure.

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“Apparently at one point he was trying to decontaminate a car. He had most of the protective gear on but he thinks something may have splashed on his body at that point. That’s one possibility but really – one doesn’t know fully,” said Diana Mukpo.

“It depends on what he got splashed with. If he got splashed with blood then yes, that’s a realistic way of transmitting,” said Dr. Fishman.

Dr. Fishman says transmission can be prevented by taking the necessary precautions.

“In the U.S. we would wear, gowns, gloves and masks with eye protection and that is 100 percent effective in preventing transmission. They just don’t have those supplies in Africa like we do here,” Dr. Fishman said.

For more information: Ebola Resource Guide
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