Scottish nurse with Ebola in serious condition in hospital

Ebola is one of the world’s most lethal illnesses, with a mortality rate of more than 60%. The first recorded event of the disease was two instantaneous outbursts in 1976 near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Recently the first cases of the present outbreak in West Africa were identified in March 2014. It is the first major and most complicated outbreak of Ebola since the Ebola virus was first learned. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone were the countries which were most affected by the outbreak, since these countries suffer from weak health systems and instability with respect to finances.

As of October 4 2015, 11,312 people have died worldwide after the Ebola outbreak. This comprises of tourists and travellers in Europe and America who returned back after their trips to West Africa.


1 Who is the nurse?

Scottish Pauline Cafferkey who is 39 years old is said to be in a grim condition at the Royal Free Hospital in London. Her second attack of Ebola came just after ten days of receiving a Pride of Britain award from Lenny Henry and Carol Vorderman and met Samantha Cameron in Downing Street the following day. She was flown in by the RAF from Glasgow in emergency condition.

She had developed an uncommon late problem as an outcome of the original Ebola infection and tests have shown that the virus is still remaining and alive in her body. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted: ‘Thoughts with Pauline Cafferkey today as she battles Ebola for the second time’, after she had to confirm the reversion of the Ebola virus.

Dr Emilia Crighton, NHSGGC director of public health, said: “Pauline’s condition is a complication of a previous infection with the Ebola virus.”The risk to the public is very low. In line with normal procedures in cases such as this, we have identified a small number of close contacts of Pauline’s that we will be following up as a precaution.”

Who is the nurse?

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2 What is Ebola?

Ebola is a very unusual but a highly deadly virus that causes internal and external bleeding from the body. It damages the immune system as well as the organs through which it passes via the blood stream. Finally, it causes the levels of blood-clotting cells to drop. This results in severe, uncontainable bleeding.

The disease is also known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever or Ebola virus, kills up to 90% of people who are infected.

Ebola is not a contagious disease or virus like colds, influenza, or measles. It spreads to people by contact with the skin or bodily liquids of any diseased animal, like a monkey, chimp, or fruit bat. And then it keeps spreading from person to person in the very same way. People who work in treating any sick individual or those who cremate or bury someone who has died from the Ebola disease often themselves get the disease.

What is Ebola?

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The symptoms of Ebola are severe weakness, muscle discomfort and headaches as well as sudden onset of fever. Vomiting, diarrhoea, rashes, kidney and liver problems follow as the virus spreads through the body. The incubation period i.e. the time in the middle of infection and the onset of indications can range anywhere from two days to three weeks.

Ebola tends to spread from person to person as a result of direct contact with the blood, organs or other physical fluids of those infected and healthcare employees are probably at the most risk.


3 Nurse’s previous bout with Ebola

Ms Cafferkey had first got infected with Ebola when she was employed as a volunteer with Save the Children at a health treatment centre in Kerry Town, in Sierra Leone. She was diagnosed with the virus on 29 December last year, and after she returned to Glasgow via London.

She was then treated in a separation unit at Glasgow’s Gartnavel Hospital after she developed high fever and was immediately transported by an RAF Hercules plane to London on 30 December for treatment at the Royal Free.

The hospital announced on 4th January that she had become critically ill after spending some days in the hospital in treatment. After leaving hospital later the same month, Ms Cafferkey said she was “very happy to be alive” and was looking forward to returning to “normal life”.

Nurse’s previous bout with Ebola

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4 Other examples of Ebola contraction

Apart from Cafferkey, there are many other medical professionals who contracted the disease after working in the area close to where the Ebola virus was spread.

An American doctor, Ian Crozier also contracted the virus in Sierra Leone last September, but sadly he developed the most severe side-effects. He described a burning feeling in his eyes and severely deteriorating vision two months after his recovery.

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In revealed in an interview with the New York Times that months after his seeming retrieval the pressure inside his eye, which had been hazardously raised, suspiciously started to drop and he sensed his eye was turning to slush. “The eye felt dead to me,” Crozier said.

10 days after his eyes began to show symptoms of a problem, he got a major shock when he saw that one eye which was blue in color under normal circumstances had become green. It became known that the interior of his left eye was swarming with live, duplicating virus.

5 How will Cafferkey be treated?

Government sources have declared that Miss Cafferkey poses little risk to the public. Since the virus is only spread via blood, faeces and saliva. The increase period i.e. the time period between catching the infection and the beginning of symptoms varies from two days to three weeks.


Dr Ben Neuman, a virologist from the University of Reading said: “Once the virus is removed from the blood once, it tends to retreat into the hard-to-access components of the body. It’ll hide in places like the back of your eye or breast milk.” He also said that,” the effects of the virus on the body could last for up to two years, although it was difficult to know how long it could actually persist.”

How will Cafferkey be treated?

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