Ebola Nurse Flown To London Hospital

23 February 2016, 11:23

Ebola Nurse

Nurse Pauline Cafferkey has been transferred to hospital in London to be treated for a "late complication'' from the Ebola virus.

Ms Cafferkey, 40, was flown from Glasgow by RAF Hercules for treatment at the Royal Free Hospital.

It is the third time she has been hospitalised since contracting Ebola.

She was originally infected while working in Sierra Leone in December 2014 and spent almost a month in an isolation unit at the London hospital.

She was released after making a recovery but fell ill again in October last year and was again treated at the Royal Free for meningitis caused by Ebola.

At one point, the Scottish nurse was described as ''critically ill'' but was discharged in November and transferred to Glasgow's Queen Elizabeth University Hospital to continue her recovery and later returned home.

However, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said on Tuesday Ms Cafferkey was in a stable condition at the hospital after "routine monitoring'' identified a problem.

A spokesman for the Royal Free Hospital said: "We can confirm that Pauline Cafferkey is being transferred to the Royal Free Hospital due to a late complication from her previous infection by the Ebola virus.

"She will now be treated by the hospital's infectious diseases team under nationally-agreed guidelines.

"The Ebola virus can only be transmitted by direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person while they are symptomatic, so the risk to the general public remains low and the NHS has well-established and practised infection control procedures in place.

Medical staff and RAF personnel were involved in moving Ms Cafferkey on to the aircraft in an isolation tent at Glasgow airport on Tuesday afternoon.

She contracted the virus while working as a nurse at the Save the Children treatment centre in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone.

Ms Cafferkey, from South Lanarkshire, was diagnosed after returning to Glasgow from the west African country via London.

At the time of her re-admission last year, Dr Michael Jacobs, from the Royal Free, described the situation as ''unprecedented'' while the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Ms Cafferkey was the only known Ebola survivor to develop meningitis months later.

When she was released from hospital for the second time, she said: ''I am forever thankful for the amazing care I have received at the Royal Free Hospital.

''For a second time, staff across many departments of the hospital have worked incredibly hard to help me recover and I will always be grateful to them and the NHS.''

In November, the Royal Free said Ms Cafferkey had made a full recovery from Ebola and was no longer infectious.

Dr Derek Gatherer, lecturer in biomedical and life sciences at Lancaster University, said: ''It is very sad to hear that Ms Cafferkey has once again been admitted to hospital.

''It is now becoming clear that Ebola is a far more complex disease than we previously imagined.

''The meningitis that Ms Cafferkey suffered from at the end of last year is one of the most serious complications of all, as it can be life-threatening. She was unlucky enough to be one of only a handful of patients in whom it has been seen."

The WHO declared the Ebola outbreak over last year after the deaths of thousands of people but two new cases emerged in Sierra Leone in January. The organisation called for a ''critical period of heightened vigilance''.

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