UK

UK female military health worker has Ebola

  • 11 March 2015
  • From the section UK
British military personnel Image copyright MOD
Image caption British military personnel were deployed to Sierra Leone to assist with the Ebola crisis

A female British military healthcare worker in Sierra Leone has tested positive for Ebola.

She is currently being treated in the Kerry Town treatment unit in the country and her next of kin have been informed.

Public Health England said that medical experts were making sure appropriate care was being delivered.

A decision on whether she will be evacuated to the UK for treatment has not yet been made.

The Ministry of Defence said between 600 and 700 of their personnel were currently working in Sierra Leone in connection with the Ebola crisis.

The MOD said: "Despite there being stringent procedures and controls in place to safeguard UK service personnel, there is always a level of risk in deployments on operations of this type."

An investigation into how the military worker was exposed to the virus is currently under way, PHE said.

Public Health England said: "Any individuals identified as having had close contact [with this person] will be assessed and a clinical decision made regarding bringing them to the UK.

"The UK has robust, well-developed and well-tested systems for managing Ebola and the overall risk to the public in the UK continues to be very low."

This is the third British citizen to test positive for Ebola - a viral illness which causes vomiting, diarrhoea and internal bleeding - since the outbreak began in West Africa.

Full recoveries

Two other British citizens, nurses Will Pooley and Pauline Cafferkey, made full recoveries from Ebola after being infected with the virus in West Africa.

They were both flown back to the UK and treated at a specialist unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

Mr Pooley, from Eyke in Suffolk, tested positive for the virus while in Sierra Leone last August and was flown back to the UK by the RAF.

He has since returned to Sierra Leone to resume his work.

Ms Cafferkey, from Cambuslang, in South Lanarkshire, had volunteered with Save The Children at a treatment centre in Kerry Town in Sierra Leone.

She was not diagnosed with Ebola until after she returned to the UK in December.

She spent more than three weeks being treated at the Royal Free where she was critically ill for a time, but was released at the end of January.

Five other Britons have been tested for the virus but the results have come back negative.

Among them were two other military healthcare workers, who were discharged from the hospital last month after being kept under observation following needle-stick injuries while treating sufferers in Sierra Leone.

Nearly 10,000 people are suspected to have died from Ebola in the current outbreak.

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