Glasgow & West Scotland

Scots Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey 'may never run again'

Pauline Cafferkey
Image caption Pauline Cafferkey contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone in 2014

The Scottish nurse who survived Ebola has said she has been left with permanent weakness in her leg and will probably never run again.

Pauline Cafferkey, 40, from Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, was hospitalised three times after contracting the virus while working in Sierra Leone in 2014.

She told BBC Radio Scotland that she was now "Ebola negative" and her health had come on "leaps and bounds".

But she said there were long-term issues, such as numbness and dizziness.

Image copyright Scotsman
Image caption Ms Cafferkey pictured in Sierra Leone in 2014

Speaking on Radio Scotland's Stephen Jardine programme, Ms Cafferkey revealed that her case was the highest viral load of Ebola ever recorded in a survivor.

She said that since being discharged from hospital for a third time in February, she had been doing "great" and had come on "leaps and bounds in the past few months."

However, she added: "I've got pins and needles and numbness over various parts of my body. I've still got swelling at the base of my spine, which is very painful and dizziness - my balance isn't too good."

Ms Cafferkey said a weakness that developed in her left leg had not improved.

She said: "That's quite difficult to get my head around because I don't think I'll be able to do the fitness that I used to do.

"I don't think I'll be able to run again because I do have this leg weakness."

Paying tribute to her medical team, she added: "Although I am negative Ebola, I still have some remnants there as a result of it. But on the other hand, I am alive and I have received the best care in the world."

The nurse, from Halfway, Cambuslang, contracted Ebola while working as part of a British team at the Kerry Town Ebola treatment centre.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Pauline Cafferkey was taken to the Royal Free Hospital in London for a third time in February

She spent almost a month in isolation at the Royal Free Hospital in London at the beginning of 2015 after the virus was detected when she arrived back in the UK.

Ms Cafferkey was later discharged after apparently making a full recovery, and in March 2015 returned to work as a public health nurse at Blantyre Health Centre in South Lanarkshire.

But in October last year it was discovered that Ebola was still present in her body, with health officials later confirming she had been diagnosed with meningitis caused by the virus.

She was treated at the Royal Free in London for a third time following a relapse in February and discharged the same month.


Image copyright EPA
Image caption Ms Cafferkey worked at Kerry Town Ebola treatment centre in 2014

What is Ebola?

Ebola is a viral illness of which the initial symptoms can include a sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). And that is just the beginning: subsequent stages are vomiting, diarrhoea and - in some cases - both internal and external bleeding.

The disease infects humans through close contact with infected animals, including chimpanzees, fruit bats and forest antelope.

It then spreads between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments. Even funerals of Ebola victims can be a risk, if mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased.

Where does it strike?

Ebola outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests, says the WHO.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa was first reported in March 2014, and rapidly became the deadliest occurrence of the disease since its discovery in 1976.

Almost two years on from the first confirmed case recorded on 23 March 2014, more than 11,000 people have been reported as having died from the disease in six countries; Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, the US and Mali.

The total number of reported cases is almost 29,000.

On 13 January, 2016, the World Health Organisation declared the last of the countries still affected, Liberia, to be Ebola-free.


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