British Nurse Diagnosed wih Ebola after returning from Sierra Leone now in Critical Condition
A British nurse who was diagnosed with Ebola after returning from Sierra Leone is now in a critical condition, the London hospital treating her has said.
The Royal Free Hospital said it was “sorry to announce that the condition of Pauline Cafferkey has gradually deteriorated over the past two days”.
Ms Cafferkey, from South Lanarkshire, was given an experimental anti-viral drug and blood from disease survivors.
She was diagnosed in December after volunteering with Save the Children.
The public health nurse had travelled home via Casablanca, Morocco, and London’s Heathrow Airport.
Ms Cafferkey was screened for the disease at Heathrow and told officials she believed a fever might be developing.
Her temperature was taken seven times in total, six of which were within 30 minutes, and was normal each time, so she was allowed to fly home to Scotland.
The government’s chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, has said questions have been raised about the airport screening procedure for Ebola following Ms Cafferkey’s case.
She was placed in an isolation unit at Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow after becoming feverish, before being transferred by RAF Hercules plane to London and on to the Royal Free’s specialist treatment centre.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has tweeted her support for Ms Cafferkey, saying: “My thoughts are with Pauline & her family at this extremely difficult time. Thanks to all who are caring for her.”
Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, such as blood, vomit or faeces.
The virus has killed more than 7,800 people, almost all in West Africa, since it broke out a year ago.
The World Health Organization says the number of people infected by the disease in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea has now passed 20,000.
Ms Cafferkey, who had been working with Save the Children in Sierra Leone, arrived in Glasgow on a British Airways flight on 28 December but was placed in an isolation unit at Gartnavel Hospital the next day, after becoming feverish.
Officials from Health Protection Scotland had spoken to all 71 passengers and members of crew aboard the British Airways flight from Heathrow to Glasgow, a PHE spokeswoman said.
And all 101 UK-based passengers and crew aboard the Royal Air Maroc flight from Casablanca to Heathrow had been contacted by officials from Public Health England.
The remaining 31 international passengers on the flight were being traced by international public health authorities, the spokeswoman added.
Ms Cafferkey is the second UK case of Ebola. Another nurse – William Pooley – recovered from Ebola in September after also being treated at the Royal Free Hospital.
He donated some blood plasma and was treated with the anti-viral drug ZMapp, of which there are no stocks left.
Professor Hugh Pennington, a microbiologist, said while there was currently no approved treatment for the virus, intensive care could make a big difference to a patient’s chances of recovery.
“Unfortunately in this, it’s not a bacterial infection, we don’t have an antibiotic that will kill off the bug – we have these experimental approaches which might or might not work,” he said.
“The baseline sort of treatment, the one that might make all the difference, is this general support to the patient’s circulation and their metabolism and sometimes they get organ failure and you can tide them over with kidney dialysis, and so on.”
Source: BBC News