A Scottish nurse who contracted the Ebola virus in West Africa is in critical condition, according to doctors at the London hospital where she is receiving experimental treatment.
Pauline Cafferkey, who was diagnosed with Ebola in Glasgow on Dec. 28 after returning from a volunteer trip to Sierra Leone, is the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the Great Britain. Cafferkey, 39, is being treated in an isolation unit at London's Royal Free Hospital with an experimental antiviral drug and with plasma containing Ebola-fighting antibodies from a recovered patient. Her condition has deteriorated over the past two days.
Cafferkey, who works for Britain’s state-run National Health Services, was working as a volunteer nurse in Freetown, Sierra Leone, at an Ebola treatment center run by the Save the Children, according to The Guardian newspaper.
She flew to London’s Heathrow airport from Sierra Leone via Morocco on Sunday but had not shown Ebola symptoms during a temperature check and screening for the disease during the trip. After she voiced concerns about her temperature, Cafferkey had it checked six times in a span of 30 minutes while waiting for a connecting flight to Glasgow, according to The Guardian, but was cleared to take the flight.
Cafferkey developed a fever after taking a taxi home and was placed in isolation at a Glasgow hospital early Monday before being transferred to London on an RAF C-130 Hercules plane, The Guardian said. She been in isolation since Tuesday.
Doctors said Cafferkey agreed to have blood plasma treatment and to take an experimental anti-viral drug. They did not name the drug but said it was not ZMapp, the drug used to successfully treat fellow British volunteer nurse William Pooley. The hospital was unable to obtain ZMapp, because “there is none in the world at the moment,” according to The Guardian newspaper.
Dr. Michael Jacobs, infectious diseases consultant at the Royal Free London, warned that "Ebola runs a very variable course and the next few days are going to be very critical.”
On Wednesday, doctors said Cafferkey was sitting up in bed, reading and talking to staff from inside her isolation tent in the hospital. Her condition has deteriorated.
Cafferkey is the second person to be treated for Ebola in Britain after Pooley, who recovered and has since returned to Sierra Leone.
Al Jazeera and wire services