A British nurse who was successfully treated in January after contracting Ebola in Sierra Leone is now “critically ill” due to a resurgence of the virus. Pauline Cafferkey has been receiving treatment in London.
It is thought that Cafferkey, 39, could be only the second recorded case of “reactivated” Ebola after American doctor Ian Crozier. Cafferkey was first diagnosed with Ebola in December after returning to the Scottish city of Glasgow from Sierra Leone.
“We are sad to announce that Pauline Cafferkey’s condition has deteriorated and she is now critically ill. Pauline is being treated for Ebola in the high-level isolation unit at the Royal Free,” the London hospital said in a statement.
Just two weeks ago, Cafferkey was at Downing Street meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron’s wife Samantha, where she received an award for bravery. She reportedly visited a primary school the day before being readmitted to hospital on October 6.
Cafferkey spent almost a month in the isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital at the beginning of the year and was treated with an experimental anti-viral drug and blood from Ebola survivors before being discharged.
Last week, she fell ill again and was treated in Glasgow before being flown by military aircraft back to the Royal Free Hospital in London. Her sister Toni said that doctors in Glasgow had diagnosed her with a virus on Monday but sent her back home.
She called the treatment her sister received “absolutely diabolical” but local health officials have insisted that the decisions taken were “entirely appropriate.”
Health officials have been monitoring 58 people who have been in close contact with Cafferkey. Forty have had direct contact with her bodily fluids – the main mode of Ebola transmission. Of the 40, 25 are receiving a vaccine and a further 15 have either declined it or were unable to receive it due to existing medical conditions.
The deadliest-ever Ebola outbreak since the virus was identified in Central Africa in 1976 has killed over 11,000 people and infected more than 28,000, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization.