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Ebola Nurse Now 'Critical'


Pauline Cafferkey was readmitted to a specialist isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London last week. The hospital said in a statement that her condition had deteriorated.

Ms Cafferkey, 39, from Cambuslang in South Lanarkshire, contracted Ebola while working at a treatment centre in Sierra Leone last year.

She spent almost a month in isolation at the Royal Free at the beginning of the year after the virus was detected when she arrived back in the UK. She was later discharged after apparently making a full recovery, but it was discovered last week that Ebola was still present in her body.

Bodily tissues can harbour the Ebola infection months after the person appears to have fully recovered.

A statement released by the hospital said: "We are sad to announce that Pauline Cafferkey's condition has deteriorated and she is now critically ill. She is being treated for Ebola in the high level isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital."

Ms Cafferkey had initially gone to an out-of-hours doctor in Glasgow on Monday of last week, but was sent home after being told she probably had a virus.

Her family has claimed doctors "missed a big opportunity" to spot she had fallen ill again.

She was admitted to the city's Queen Elizabeth University Hospital the following day after continuing to feel unwell, before being transferred to the Royal Free in a military aircraft on Friday morning.

Dr Ben Neuman, a virologist at the University of Reading, said that; "The medical team treating Ms Cafferkey was in completely uncharted territory".

He added: "It may be that the virus has gotten into a place where the immune system can't root it out, and that what we are seeing right now is essentially a frustrated immune system overreacting and basically hurting some of the other organs. We don't know what Ebola looks like the second time around or after a big relapse like this. Right now, she has had this virus about three times as long as the other previous record holder. It is bad news, but it is not hopeless news. As long as she is still there, and as long as she is still fighting, there is a chance. And there is a chance that some of the new medicines that we have got against Ebola may be able to help a little bit."

Ms Cafferkey had returned to work as a public health nurse at Blantyre Health Centre in South Lanarkshire. She had been well enough last Monday to visit Mossneuk Primary School in East Kilbride to thank children for their fund-raising efforts.

And the previous week, she had received a Pride of Britain award in London, which also saw her meet the prime minister's wife, Samantha Cameron, at 10 Downing Street.

The Ebola outbreak in west Africa has killed 11,312 of the 28,457 people infected since December 2013, according to the latest WHO figures.