Ebola: Nurse Pauline Cafferkey 'as well as hoped for'

Pauline Cafferkey
Image caption Pauline Cafferkey is an associate public health nurse at Blantyre Health Centre, South Lanarkshire

A British nurse who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone is "as well as we can hope for at this stage", the hospital treating her has said.

Pauline Cafferkey is receiving an experimental anti-viral drug and blood from survivors of the disease at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead.

A spokeswoman said there had been no significant change in her condition.

Meanwhile, Public Health England said it had spoken to 85 passengers who travelled with Ms Cafferkey.

Attempts to trace those who were on both her flights from Casablanca to Heathrow and Heathrow to Glasgow are continuing.

On Wednesday, the doctor treating Ms Cafferkey - a public health nurse at Blantyre Health Centre in South Lanarkshire - said she was in isolation and was sitting up in bed, talking and reading.

As the disease has no known cure and is unpredictable, Dr Jacobs said they would know more in a week's time.

He said Ms Cafferkey had agreed to all the treatments and her family had been to see her.

"She's a nurse, a fellow professional, so we have been able to discuss things in great detail," he said.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionDr Michael Jacobs, infectious diseases specialist, confirmed Ms Cafferkey was receiving plasma and an unnamed experimental drug

Ms Cafferkey is receiving treatment via a quarantine tent after returning to Glasgow from Sierra Leone on Sunday.

She was working in the West African country as part of a Save the Children team. She travelled home via Casablanca, Morocco, and London's Heathrow Airport.

Ms Cafferkey was screened for the disease at Heathrow and told officials she believed a fever might be developing.

Her temperature was taken seven times in total and was normal each time, so she was allowed to fly home to Scotland.

She was placed in an isolation unit at Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow after becoming feverish on Monday.

Ms Cafferkey was transferred by RAF Hercules plane to London and on to the Royal Free's specialist treatment centre on Tuesday.

Image caption Ms Cafferkey had travelled from Freetown in Sierra Leone via Casablanca

Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, such as blood, vomit or faeces.

The virus has killed more than 7,800 people, mostly in West Africa, since it broke out a year ago.

The World Health Organization says the number of people infected by the disease in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea has now passed 20,000.

Temperature screening

  • A normal body temperature is considered 37C
  • A raised temperature is one sign of Ebola and forms a core part of entry screening
  • The UK uses a relatively tough 37.5C as the cut off for further testing
  • Belgium and Australia use a higher threshold of 38C
  • India uses 38.3C
  • Spain and the US use 38.6C

Source: The Lancet

Ms Cafferkey is the second UK case of Ebola. Another nurse - William Pooley - recovered from Ebola in September after also being treated at the Royal Free Hospital.

He donated some blood plasma and was treated with the anti-viral drug ZMapp, of which there are no stocks left.

Dr Jacobs said the cases "were quite separate from one another".

"We're starting from the beginning again," he said. "We're treating Pauline absolutely on her own merits."

He said there was "a European pool" of recovered patients' blood plasma and they had identified "the best plasma for her".

It is hoped the antibodies in the plasma will help her immune system fight the disease.

What are the symptoms?

Image caption The Ebola virus causes a range of painful and debilitating symptoms

The early symptoms are a sudden fever, muscle pain, fatigue, headache and sore throat.

This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, a rash and bleeding - both internal and external - which can be seen in the gums, eyes, nose and in the stools.

Patients tend to die from dehydration and multiple organ failure.